American politics may be as divided as ever along party lines, but on Wednesday, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle came together to take a stand against sexual assault. For close to one hour, a bipartisan group of Congress members took turns reading the letter that the sexual assault survivor of former Stanford student, Brock Turner, read aloud to her attacker in court.
The reading was led by California congresswoman Jackie Speier, who began with:
We are doing something tonight that's never been done before on the House floor. We will read the entire gut-wrenching statement of a sexual assault survivor who was attacked on the Stanford campus last year. The sexual predator received a paltry sentence of six months in county jail, of which he will serve only three for committing a violent crime. We are not moved by the felon's excuse of alcohol. We are not moved by the judge who said a longer sentence would have "a severe impact" on the offender. We are not moved by the felon's father, who said that his son should not serve jail time for "20 minutes of action."
The representatives weren't the first to read the survivor's powerful statement. CNN host Ashleigh Banfield read the letter in its entirety on her show Legal View. Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, also did the same with celebrities like Cynthia Nixon in a video that was posted on the mayor's Facebook page.
As a testament to how deeply the letter has affected the national consciousness, it went viral almost immediately, amassing 11 million views in four days.
"Emily Doe is a survivor in every sense of the word," Speier said, before beginning the letter, "and her words deserve to be amplified."