This is what take the knee means as US Democrats knelt in silence in memory of George Floyd

House and State Democrats knelt for almost nine minutes in honour of 46-year-old Floyd (Photo: Getty Images)
House and State Democrats knelt for almost nine minutes in honour of 46-year-old Floyd (Photo: Getty Images)

Congressional Democrats in the US gathered in Washington on Monday (8 June) to kneel in silence in memory of African American George Floyd.

House and State Democrats knelt for almost nine minutes in honour of 46-year-old Floyd, who was recently killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.

What does ‘take the knee’ mean?

People across the world have been encouraged to ‘take the knee’ as part of a Stand Up to Racism campaign, following the recent death of Floyd.

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    The campaign encourages people to kneel in silence in memory of Floyd and to show solidarity with those who are protesting against racism in the US.

    Brits were encouraged by the campaign group to kneel on their doorsteps last week (3 June) as part of a day of action against racial discrimination.

    The campaign was inspired by the kneeling protest staged by American football star Colin Kaepernick in 2016, that has since become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement.

    The call for people to ‘take the knee’ comes after thousands of people across the UK gathered over the weekend (10 June) as part of a separate Black Lives Matter protest.

    Why did US Democrats ‘take the knee’?

    The mark of silence in Congress saw Democrats kneel for a period of eight minutes and 46 seconds, to reflect the amount of time that police officer Derek Chauvin held him down and pressed a knee into his neck.

    The act came before the announcement of new legislation intended to reform the country’s police department and combat racial bias.

    The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 was unveiled by Democrats on Monday (8 June) and marks an effort to reform policing in the US.

    The bill makes it easier to prosecute police misconduct and combat brutality from officers by requiring the use of body and dashboard cameras, prohibiting choke-holds, banning no-knock warrants, ending racial profiling, and making lynching a federal hate crime.

    A national registry will also be created for tracking police misconduct, as well as introducing a new officer training programme.

    The programme will cover racial bias and duty to intervene, and will require officers only to use deadly force as a last resort, teaching them instead to rely more heavily on de-escalation techniques.

    On Wednesday (10 June), Democrats will discuss the bill, police brutality and racial profiling at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, in which witnesses, including brother to Floyd, Philonise, will give testimony.

    The bill is expected to be pushed through the House, although President Trump and the Republican Party have not yet commented on which measures they would accept.