WASHINGTON — Yesterday, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus took over the House chamber to demand the prioritization of police reforms. Legislation has languished for years in the Republican-controlled legislature, but after the groundswell of popular support for police accountability, Democratic leaders are determined to change the status quo.
Representative Steven Kinsey, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, said he was “frustrated, upset and feeling as though I’m carrying the weight of black folks on my shoulders. We cannot rewrite history. However, black and brown folks refuse to relive history.”
“No more thoughts and prayers. No more thoughts and prayers. We are legislators. Let us legislate,” said Representative Chris Rabb.
The Black legislators pressed for action on a wide-reaching legislative package to combat police brutality, most of which had been introduced long before the recent wave of protests. Governor Wolf signaled his willingness to sign new measures to improve police accountability in the state.
In response to the demonstration, Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai committed to holding a special session on policing issues. Democratic leaders vowed to hold the GOP leadership in both chambers accountable, decrying their refusal to pass long-overdue reforms.
“What we are seeing across this nation is a crying out for freedom and justice that we cannot ignore,” said first-term Representative Summer Lee, who organized the protest. “We work for the people of this commonwealth, the very folks who have been on the street calling for change. We just came here and did our job today.”