As House leaders tried to corral votes for the Obama-Boehner cromnibus Thursday afternoon, a number of congressional staffers walked out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and put their hands in the air.
The group of about 140 staffers offered their presence in solidarity with Eric Garner and Mike Brown protestors across the country.
“We believe that there is a power that has fueled our nation towards excellence through the centuries and we are here today to take advantage of the free exercise rights guaranteed to us by the framers and the founders of this nation,” Senate Chaplain Barry Black, the first African American to hold the position, explained.
Black prayed before the group, made up largely of African American staffers, making reference to recent, controversial deaths at the hands of police officers who ultimately were not indicted.
“Today as people throughout the nation protest for justice in our lands. Forgive us when we have failed to lift our voices for those who couldn’t speak or breathe, for themselves,” Black said. “May we not forget that in our national history, injustice has often been maintained because good people failed to promptly act.”
After the prayer all the staffers raised their hands up in the air in reference to the “Hands up. Don’t Shoot” meme, initiated by the Brown case.
A few lawmakers made appearances at the protest, including Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX).