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As she and other congressional Democrats rolled out a package of proposed police reforms in response to the May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., police custody, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the opportunities and challenges ahead in achieving real social change.
The nation’s streets have been filled with protests since the death of the 46-year-old, African American Floyd while detained by four police officers.
As Democrats introduced their legislation Monday, Pelosi described what can–and cannot–be addressed through government intervention.
“That has always been the challenge. The hearts and minds. We can tear down bad laws, but tear down the walls in people’s hearts. I think we’ve seen on the streets of America, across the country in large numbers, day in and day out, saying, really, young people are thinking differently. Everyone is learning from them,” Pelosi said. “That for America to live up to its promise of the greatness that we are, we want to make America proud again. So do those young people. So I believe this is an opportunity. We will miss the opportunity if we didn’t take advantage of it, and show a way, racial profiling, chokeholds, the doctrine of, all of the issues we deal with in the legislation will make a difference, a discrete difference, in how we respect people.
“So this is about respect. Respect for individuals, but respect for our founders and what they had intended. For our men and women in uniform, what they’ve fought for and protected and respect for the aspirations of our children who are right now the younger generation is out there in the streets,” she added. “Other people, too, but nonetheless, led by the young people to say, this is the future that we want to be a part of. Let’s not think in old ways. Let’s think in very positive ways about how we go forward. It’s time for healing. Ecclesiastes, a time for healing is now and I think across all generations people want America to heal. Advance our solutions in a way that brings people, that bring people together and not divides our country.
“The greatness of America depends on our doing that, but we have big problems to redress. I’ve said, when we had the moment of silence in Emancipation Hall this morning, when I was in Alabama earlier this year, and saw the little children who, whose parents were being sold into slavery and so were they saying, mama, children calling out for mama, saying, ‘Has anyone seen our mother?’ And then to hear George Floyd call out for his mother. A couple hundred years of separation, the same sentiment,” Pelosi said.
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