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Nationwide Protests: Blumenthal & Murphy Hold Joint Availability to Discuss Congressional Action

(Hartford, CT) – On Friday, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) held a media availability to the ongoing protests following the murder of George Floyd, and action Congress should take to address the racial disparities in policing, education and health care.

“The most visible manifestation of injustice today is police brutality and excessive force, whether is it Breonna Taylor, or Ahmed Aubrey, or George Floyd, or countless other young people of color who are disproportionally impacted by excessive force and police brutality,” said Blumenthal. “I want to commend the police of Connecticut for their professionalism and restraint. I want to thank the demonstrators and protesters of Connecticut for their peaceful and restrained approach to showing what democracy looks like. They have revived our sense of excitement and pride in peaceful reform.”

“I'm proud of these protesters. I'm heartbroken that this moment is necessary. I'm committed to making sure that we have a real, meaningful debate over changing the laws of this nation going forward. But I also think this is a moment where democracy is at risk,” said Murphy. “If the president continues to treat these protesters as the enemy, I worry that we will never be able to recapture the democracy that we've come to know and love. And then lastly, our work is certainly at the federal level, but we got a lot of work to do here in Connecticut as well. We're the most affluent state in the nation, and yet kids in this state are less likely than almost anywhere else in the country to go to school with a child that isn’t the same race as them. We live more separately in our state than almost any other state in the nation. We have [work to do at the federal level], but we also have work to do here in Connecticut, and I'm looking forward to being a part of all of it in the coming days, weeks and years.”

The complete press conference is downloadable at the following links: 00032.MTS & 00033.MTS.

Earlier this week Blumenthal and Murphy sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley voicing grave concerns over President Donald Trump’s recent threat to invoke the Insurrection Act in response to nationwide protests calling for justice for George Floyd and an end to systemic racism. The full text of the letter can be found here.

Blumenthal has cosponsored the Police Training and Independent Review Act that would create a financial incentive for states to require training for law enforcement officials on fair and impartial policing as well as best practices for working with members of the community who are disabled and mentally ill. It would also encourage communities to use independent prosecutors to investigate law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force by authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to award grants to states that require an independent investigation and, if warranted, prosecution in cases where one or more of the alleged offenses result in death or serious bodily harm. This legislation is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Blumenthal also introduced legislation to restrict the President’s authority under the Insurrection Act. Blumenthal will be seeking to include this legislation in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that the military is not weaponized by the President to suppress Americans’ free expression.

After large numbers of unidentified law enforcement officers began patrolling the streets of Washington, D.C. this week, Murphy and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced legislation requiring unidentified law enforcement officers and members of the Armed Forces to clearly identify themselves and their agency or service while they are engaged in crowd control or arresting individuals involved in civil disobedience or protests in the United States.