Rep. Ayanna Pressley: BLM ‘Is a Mandate from the People,’ ‘Pay Us What You Owe Us’

Pressley
(Screenshot/MSNBC)

Black Lives Matter is a mandate from the people and it is “time” for Americans to “pay us what you owe us,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) said Thursday.

Pressley made her comments during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives and said there was a “rallying cry in communities across the nation,” according to the Daily Wire.

She continued:

Madam Speaker, I rise today on behalf of every Black family that has been robbed of a child. On behalf of every family member that has been forced to see their loved one lynched on national television. Driving while Black. Jogging while Black. Sleeping while Black. We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world. Under the harsh gaze of far too many, my Black body is seen as a threat, always considered armed.

Centuries of institutionalized oppression will not be undone overnight, for racism in America is as structural as the marble pillars of this very institution. With the power of the pen we must legislate accountability, dismantle these systems, and move in the direction of justice and healing. The Justice in Policing Act is a critical step forward and I applaud the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. is a global organization whose mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes,” according to its website.

Despite the Justice in Policing Act, Pressley said the activists’ work was unfinished, adding that “Our Black skin is not a crime, it is the beautiful robe of nation builders”:

Later on Thursday, Pressley told TIME that she supported efforts to defund the police and said the issue was about a “refund” and “true reparations.”

“This is about investment in communities. There’s a reason why the Congressional Black Caucus submits an alternative budget every year. Because we know that our communities have been historically under resourced, underinvested in and divested [from],” she continued.

However, Pressley also said first responders did have a role in society, but “they needn’t play a role in every part of society. And they don’t want to,” adding that she believed communities should invest in social workers, counselors, and school nurses instead.

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