'Can you see me': Cory Booker delivers passionate speech about racism and George Floyd protests on senate floor

‘An interaction that should be everyday and routine can become a moment that your life is turned upside down’

James Crump
Wednesday 03 June 2020 18:02 BST
Cory Booker asks 'do you see me?' in speech against racism

Senator Cory Booker delivered a passionate speech in the Senate about systemic racism in the US and the ongoing George Floyd protests.

Mr Booker, a Democratic senator for New Jersey, gave a speech to the Senate, amid protests across the US, following the death of Mr Floyd, who died after being detained by Derek Chauvin, who at the time was a Minneapolis police officer.

He gave the speech prior to the Senate voting on a resolution to condemn president Donald Trump for his response to protests outside the White House.

The resolution was blocked by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who said it failed to deal with ending the protests and the issue of racial justice, according to USA Today.

The senator, who ran to be the Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election, posted footage of the speech to his YouTube channel, and tweeted the 30 minute long clip to his Twitter followers.

In the caption, Mr Booker said: “Just spoke on the Senate floor about George Floyd, the epidemic of police violence and the urgent need for police reform and accountability. This is a moment in our country’s history that demands our collective action.”

During the speech, Mr Booker said that being Black in the US is “to know that a misunderstanding, that an implicit racial bias, that an interaction that should be everyday and routine can become a moment that your life is turned upside down,” he said.

“your body becomes broken or you are killed,” Mr Booker continued.

The 51-year-old is one of only three Black senators, and in his speech he repeatedly asked the floor, “do you see me?”

Mr Booker said: “It’s why so many Black Americans scream out: ‘Do you see me? I do not have your equal justice under law. Do you see me? I do not have justice for all. Do you see me?

“I matter. I matter. Black lives matter. Black bodies matter. America, I love you, do you see me? Do you know my experiences? Do you know the failings of our ideals?’ the senator added.

During the passionate speech, the senator said that African Americans are reminded every time a Black American is killed by police, that “this could have been me. That this even would have been me in the same circumstances.”

Earlier in the day, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Mr Booker criticised president Donald Trump‘s response to the protests.

The president has taken a hard-line stance on demonstrations, and on Monday, he caused outrage by dispersing a group of demonstrators outside the White House, so that he could go to a nearby church for a photo opportunity.

Before he left the executive mansion, police were ordered to disperse the group of protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, creating a clear path for him to get to the church.

Mr Booker condemned Mr Trump’s actions, and added that he regrets not joining the protesters outside the White House.

“If Donald Trump wants to gas someone next time, start right here,” the senator said. “If he wants to shoot somebody with our federal officials, with rubber bullets, start right here.

“If he wants to trample them with horses while they peacefully assemble, come to this body.”

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