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 BennetHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Senators raise concerns over Facebook's civil rights audit House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 MORE (Colo.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (Ohio), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time Overnight Defense: Navy won't reinstate fired captain | Dems probe use of federal officers in DC | Air Force appoints woman as top noncommissioned officer Dems request watchdog probe use of federal law enforcement in DC during Floyd protests MORE (N.M.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (Va.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenMaryland GOP governor who's criticized Trump says he's considering 2024 presidential run Communist China won't change — until its people and the West demand it Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law 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. 

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Following a prayer, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads 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.”

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“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.