Kenyatta, colleagues take House chamber to demand action on police reform

HARRISBURG, June 8 At the start of today’s House session, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and other members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with numerous House Democratic colleagues, took control of the speaker’s rostrum to demand action on 19 bills from the House and Senate that would address police reform across the commonwealth.

“For 13 days, folks have been protesting in the streets, demanding that we actually do something. Now we are here demanding that you actually do something,” Kenyatta said to House Republican leadership.

“You should come up from your seats, come up here and demand that we don’t get to business as usual,” He told his white House colleagues. “That we don’t get the same speeches and lip service. We demand that we get meaningful police reform passed out of the Pennsylvania House. It’s the people’s house, and if we ain’t doing the people’s business, then we ain’t doing business."

He expanded on why immediate action is crucial, saying, “We can’t go back to normal. The folks in our districts cannot allow us to come back home and say that we introduced a bill. They need movement. They need movement."

Kenyatta’s call-to-action speech is in response to rallies and protests that have swept the nation following the highly publicized death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minnesota. Floyd’s death, which was caught on camera, is the result of a white police officer placing a knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while he was handcuffed. All officers involved face numerous charges, including Derek Chauvin, who faces second-degree murder in Floyd’s death.

Today’s protest was planned by House members on the Police Reform Working Group, which also includes the chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, as well as several attorneys. Last week, the group put forward several proposals to address law enforcement misconduct and police-community relations.

Members of the group include:

•           Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Stephen Kinsey

•           House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris

•           House Democratic Chair Joanna McClinton

•           House Philadelphia Delegation Chairman Jason Dawkins

•           State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila.

•           State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila.

•           State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila.

•           State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny.

•           State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny.

•           State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila.

•           State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny.

•           State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila.

•           State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny.