Rep. Ayanna Pressley said on the House floor that the Black Lives Matter movement is a “mandate,” and the time has come for people to “pay us what you owe us.”
“I rise today on behalf of every black family that has been robbed of a child,” the Massachusetts congresswoman and member of “the Squad,” said. “On behalf of every family member that has been forced to see their loved one lynched on national television. Driving while black. Jogging while black. Sleeping while black. We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world. Under the harsh gaze of far too many, my black body is seen as a threat, always considered armed.”
“Centuries of institutionalized oppression will not be undone overnight, for racism in America is as structural as the marble pillars of this very institution,” the Democrat added. “With the power of the pen we must legislate accountability, dismantle these systems, and move in the direction of justice and healing. The Justice in Policing Act is a critical step forward, and I applaud the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
Pressley continued: “But our work is unfinished. There is a rallying cry in communities across the nation. Black Lives Matter is a mandate from the people. It’s time. Pay us what you owe us. Our black skin is not a crime, it is the beautiful robe of nation builders.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley: "Black Lives Matter is a mandate from the people. It's time — pay us what you owe us. Our Black skin is not a crime. It is the beautiful robe of nation-builders." pic.twitter.com/48avufRaif
— The Hill (@thehill) June 26, 2020
Pressley followed up her statement in Congress with a tweet explaining that the country is currently at a “moment of reckoning.”
The fights we’re in today are old fights, but I remain hopeful.
We are in a moment of reckoning, and our movement is strong, sustainable, and focused on bringing about the systemic change our communities so desperately need. pic.twitter.com/dErEUiJyOy
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) June 26, 2020
Pressley’s words come as Black Lives Matter has grown in prominence, and has seen a spike in fundraising, amid protests and riots that have spread across the country since George Floyd’s death on May 25.
The president of Greater New York Black Lives Matter said this week that if the United States doesn’t give the movement what it is asking for, “We will burn down this system and replace it.”
The comment was heard by President Trump, who referred to it as “treason.”
Black Lives Matter leader states, “If U.S. doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it”. This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2020
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors said on CNN last week one of her group’s goals is to remove Trump from office.