To continue the protests that followed the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a multiracial, multifaith coalition of about 50 Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy and others staged a lunchtime die-in Wednesday at the U.S. congressional cafeteria.
The coalition led by Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and Auburn Seminary wanted to draw attention to its national and local demands of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It centers around Brown, 18, being gunned down by a Ferguson police officer.
Another case was 43-year-old Eric Garner, who died July 17 after being wrestled to the ground and put in a chokehold by New York police. He was captured on cellphone video repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Grand juries in both cases decided not to file charges against the white police officers in the deaths of the unarmed black men. The coalition’s action disrupted the normally busy cafeteria for House members and their staffs.
The protest follows President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night and occurred two days after the national holiday, celebrating the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Obama made brief reference to Ferguson in his speech.
In a written statement, the coalition said: “Today’s multifaith coalition called for new, aggressive action by Congress and the D.C. government to enact the demands enumerated by the national and local Ferguson Action coalitions. Those demands include:
▪ Congress taking up legislation to outlaw the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion by law enforcement agencies.
▪ Congressional hearings investigating the criminalization of communities of color and discriminatory profiling on the part of law enforcement.
▪ A limit to the transfer and use of military equipment to local law enforcement. Militarization of police is a problem in cities across the country.”
The coalition’s die-in, however, may have targeted the wrong trough to really get the attention of members of Congress.