Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Monday night condemned a Missouri grand jury's decision last week to not indict a white police officer for shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
In a series of House floor speeches on the first day back in session since the Thanksgiving recess, lawmakers said the grand jury's conclusion that there wasn't enough evidence to indict Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson suggested African Americans didn't receive the same treatment from the criminal justice system.
"The Ferguson grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Wilson was another slap in our face," Fudge said. "If we are to learn anything from the tragic death of Michael Brown, we must first acknowledge that we have a race issue we are not addressing."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said the outrage over the shooting and the grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson was due to an apparent pattern of white police officers using lethal force against unarmed African American men.
"People are fed up all across America because of the injustice involved in continuing to see young, unarmed African American men killed as the result of a gun shot fired by a law enforcement officer," Jeffries said. "People in America are fed up with a broken criminal justice system that continues to fail to deliver accountability when law enforcement officers engage in the excessive use of police force."
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said the events in Ferguson demonstrated that the U.S. still struggles with race relations despite electing the first African American president in 2008.
"Although we've elected President Barack Obama here in the United States, I've heard some say we were in a post-racial America," Meeks said. "No, we are not. For racism is still alive and well in the United States of America. We've got work to do."
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) urged approval of requiring police officers to wear body cameras in order to hold them accountable. President Obama announced Monday that the administration would provide law enforcement agencies with $263 million for purchasing body cameras.
"They're not a cure-all, they're not a panacea. But they are a positive step in the right direction," Green said.
In a statement immediately following the grand jury's decision last week, Fudge said the outcome was a "miscarriage of justice" suggesting that "Black lives hold no value."
Members of the CBC also spoke on the House floor on the first day back in session after the August shooting.
"This much cannot be disputed: Across America today, we have too many Michael Browns. We have too many unarmed black men who interact with police and wind up dead," Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), whose district includes Ferguson, said at the time.
Wilson resigned from the Ferguson police force over the weekend.