Democratic senators kneel during moment of silence for George Floyd

Several Democratic senators knelt during a moment of silence for George Floyd during their caucus meeting on Thursday.

Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Democrats sense momentum for expanding child tax credit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' MORE (Colo.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day Plaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation MORE (Ohio), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Senate Democrats seek removal of controversial public lands head after nomination withdrawal Five takeaways from final Senate Intel Russia report MORE (N.M.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineTwo Loeffler staffers test positive for COVID-19 Democrats have no case against Amy Coney Barrett — but that won't stop them Pence-Harris debate draws more than 50M viewers, up 26 percent from 2016 MORE (Va.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (Md.) all knelt as the caucus offered the moment of silence for Floyd.

The moment lasted for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time the bystander video footage showed former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and then became unresponsive. Chauvin now faces second-degree murder charges. 


Following a prayer, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority MORE (D-N.J.) gave an introduction ahead of the moment of silence, describing Floyd as a Houston native and a high school athlete. 

“Today we gather here in solemn reverence to not just mark his tragic death but to give honor to his life,” he said.

“George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. May we honor those dead by protecting all who are alive,” Booker said after the silence. 

Protests over the deaths of Floyd, Arbery, Taylor and other minorities who interacted with police have erupted across the country in the past week. 

Booker told reporters afterwards that it was a “very painful moment” as his fellow senators feel “a deep level of anguish, actually, and anger and hurt.”


“They, like so many Americans, want to do something,” he said. “And we all know we're all working on legislation but the conversations that led to this was because people feel, in my opinion, that we need to do more.”

“For all of us, this would be a moment of solidarity and sort of sharing common spirited grief so it was very moving to me to see everyone,” he added. 

This was the first time the Senate Democratic Caucus has met in-person in months as the coronavirus pandemic has limited in-person gatherings. Senators wore masks and socially distanced themselves during the meeting and the moment of silence.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter last week before the charges were raised to second-degree murder on Wednesday.

The other three officers present at Floyd's arrest – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane – were also charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting in second-degree murder. 

All four officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the day after Floyd died.

Jordain Carney contributed.