On Monday, the Colorado House of Representatives held a moment of silence for George Floyd, the Minnesota man killed in police custody last week.
Rep. James Coleman (D-Green Valley Ranch) led an opening prayer calling for an end to the "status quo legislature."
"We cannot continue to sustain structures and systems that oppress, marginalize, mass incarcerate, mis-educate, and murder," Coleman said. "We cannot serve as if George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Abery, and many others have not died."
Before the House convened, the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus and Latino Democratic Legislative Caucus released a joint statement echoing that sentiment.
Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), chair of the Caucus, said she hopes bills addressing excessive use of force by police and systemic racism will be introduced during this abbreviated session.
"It needs to be our No. 1 priority," said Herod. "We have a budget to pass, absolutely, and that budget should reflect the pain and the harm that’s been done."
Herod, who is the first gay African American to be elected to the Colorado legislature, said the recent protests in Denver and around the country reflect the frustration and pain the black community has long experienced.
"My brother has been profiled and pulled over time and time again. I have been profiled," she said.
In her statement, Herod noted past instances in Colorado involving police using excessive force against minorities.
"We should put policies in place right now for transparency and accountability, and I ask all good law enforcement officers to step up and hold law enforcement officers accountable and get them off of the force," she said.
Herod added that she will continue to stand with protesters and invited them to continue demonstrating.
"It's not my place to tell someone when it’s time to stop protesting," said Herod. "I think we need to demand accountability, I think we need to change policies and change culture, and until the community feels like that’s happened, come out. I'll stand with you."