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Black Congressional Staffers Stage Walk Out Over Grand Jury Decisions

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At the Capitol today, a group of black congressional staffers led a walkout. The event was intended as a show of support for ongoing demonstrations across the country following grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island. NPR's Brakkton Booker reports.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: On this frigid December afternoon, scores of mostly African-American Capitol Hill staffers stood shoulder to shoulder on the Capitol steps. Barry Black, the Senate chaplain, was the only person to speak.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHAPLAIN BARRY BLACK: We're gathered here today so that we can be the voice for the voiceless.

BOOKER: Chaplain Black prayed for comfort for those who mourn and asked for guidance for people who don't speak out when they see injustices.

BLACK: Forgive us when we have failed to lift our voices for those who couldn't speak or breathe for themselves.

BOOKER: That's a reference to I can't breathe, the phrase Eric Garner said repeatedly in his confrontation with police on Staten Island. At the end of the event, the staffers posed for a picture, where they all stood with their hands above their heads, a nod to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, the Capital. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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