WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A day after emotional testimony from George Floyd’s brother on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Black Caucus held a second, smaller hearing to dig into underlying racial inequity issues that contributed to Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
Activists told the caucus that Congress must dive deeper to stop a cycle of violence.
“There’s a lot of trauma happening in the community right now,” Darius Ballinger, who mentors youths on the south side of Chicago, told lawmakers. “When we spend three times as more on enforcement than we do on educating and supporting, then folks are feeling less than, they’re feeling marginalized.”
He and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza also defended calls to defund police departments.
“Education has been defunded, housing has been defunded, health care has been defunded,” Garza listed. “Everything that keeps our communities safe and secure with dignity has been defunded.”
She argued violence will continue unless communities currently starved of resources get real investment, and the CBC agreed minority communities need more help.
“It is personal for all us. It’s particularly personal for me,” CBC member Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said.
She’s a former social worker and Orlando police chief.
“Every time society fails, we put it on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding? Let the cops handle it. Not enough drug treatment facilities? Let the cops handle it,” she said.
Congressional Democrats’ Justice in Policing bill, introduced earlier this week, does not cut funding to police.
Republicans plan to unveil their own police reform plan in the coming week and have stressed it will not include funding cuts.
“While Democrats talk about defunding the police, Republicans talk about solutions that will defend Americans,” House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “No one should be judged by the color of their skin and no one should be judged by the uniform they wear.”