• Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus marked the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor
  • The brief ceremony came ahead of the first in-person meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus in months
  • Booker said demonstrations against racism and police brutality sweeping the country show people just "want to do something"

Senate Democrats engaged in an 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence Thursday, marking the deaths of two black men and a woman who were killed in recent weeks by police officers or wannabes. The length of time matched the amount of time a white police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, who pleaded for air before he died.

Lawmakers, wearing face masks, stood six feet apart, five of them kneeling on the marble floor, near the statue of Frederick Douglass in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill.

The gesture marked the deaths of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin faces murder charges in Floyd’s death while three people have been charged in Arbery’s vigilante killing. Officers involved in Taylor’s killing were placed on administrative leave.

Floyd’s death triggered a wave of sometimes violent protests against racism and police brutality across the country that have resulted in at least 10,000 arrests and were punctuated Monday by federal troops using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear an area across from the White House so President Trump could walk across the street for a photo op in front of a church. Trump has threatened to send in regular military troops to cities if local officials cannot suppress the unrest.

“This is a very painful moment,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said after offering a short eulogy for Floyd. He said the protesters just “want to do something.”

“Today we gather here in solemn reverence to not just mark his tragic death but to give honor to his life,” Booker said. “George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. May we honor those dead by protecting all who are alive.”

The brief ceremony came ahead of the first in-person meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus since the coronavirus pandemic forced lawmakers to stay away from the Capitol.