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Staffers Walk Out Of Congress In Protest Over Brown And Garner Cases

Dozens of congressional staff members walked out of the Capitol at 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday, in a show of support for protesters angered by recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Wearing suits, ties and overcoats, the staffers stood several rows deep on the steps of Capitol Hill before making the hands-up gesture that has come to symbolize frustration with the deaths of the two unarmed black men at the hands of police. They stood silently with their arms raised for a moment before disbanding and walking down the steps.

While the event was spearheaded by the Congressional Black Associates, it also drew other staff members, including the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association, according to CNN.

A few members of Congress came out to the steps, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas. The short event included a prayer from U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black.

The protest comes a week after Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she was "deeply disappointed" by a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to level charges in the Garner case.

Noting that the decision was similar to another jury's findings in Ferguson, Mo., Fudge wrote:

"In the span of two weeks, this nation seems to have heard one message loud and clear: there will be no accountability for taking Black lives. As an American, it is growing increasingly difficult to believe that there is justice for all."

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Corrected: December 10, 2014 at 11:00 PM CST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Rep. John Lewis took part in the protest. It was actually Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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