'He did not deserve to die over $20': George Floyd's brother asks Congress for 'justice' at hearing

'George called for help, and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I'm making to you now,' Philonise Floyd says in emotional plea to lawmakers

Griffin Connolly
Wednesday 10 June 2020 16:54 BST
George Floyd's brother testifies at US Committee and asks for law enforcement to be the solution, not the problem

Philonise Floyd told congress on Wednesday that his brother George Floyd "didn't deserve to die over $20" last month and asked lawmakers to "stop the pain" caused by police brutality.

“I'm here to ask you to make it stop – stop the pain, stop us being tired,” Mr Floyd said in his emotional opening statement at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices and law enforcement accountability.

“George called for help, and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family, and the calls ringing out on the streets across the world,” he said.

Mr Floyd said he decided to testify because he’s “the big brother now”.

“It's my job to comfort my brothers and my sisters, [George Floyd’s] kids, and everyone who loved him. And that's a lot of people. I have to be the strong one now because George is gone,” he said.

Mr Floyd has been outspoken on the need for “justice” for his brother and other victims of police brutality in the weeks since Mr Floyd died while a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for over eight minutes despite Mr Floyd telling the officer he couldn’t breathe.

When video of the incident emerged online, it re-exposed long-simmering racial tensions in the US, especially between law enforcement and the black communities they serve.

Mr Floyd was not the only high-profile guest to speak before the panel on Wednesday.

Also expected to testify are the Floyd family’s lawyer, Ben Crump; conservative radio host and former secret service agent Dan Bongino; church pastor and 2016 Trump transition team member Darrell Scott; the sister of a Federal Protective Services officer who was killed during a riot in Oakland, California; and seven others.

Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed a desire to take federal action to reform police department practices and oversight systems.

Senate Republicans, led by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black member of their caucus, have outlined a proposal that would provide funding for training to reduce racial bias among police officers; create a national misconduct registry for officers to ensure those with lengthy and questionable records cannot simply change departments to avoid accountability; and require state and local law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force incidents to the Justice Department.

Legislation introduced by congressional Democrats earlier this week would go even farther.

That bill would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the federal level, while incentivising local departments to adopt similar measures by withholding funding for those that don’t, and also seeks to reforms “qualified immunity laws” to make it easier to prosecute and sue police and other government agencies for misconduct.

“The goal of this legislation is to achieve a guardian — not a warrior — model of policing,” Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said of Democrats’ bill at the hearing on Wednesday.

While most Democratic lawmakers and the party’s 2020 presidential nominee, Joe Biden, have rejected calls to “defund the police,” Congressman Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, harangued the liberal activists and some local Democratic politicians who have issued such calls.

Americans “know it is pure insanity to defund the police, and the fact that my Democrat colleagues won't speak out against this crazy policy is just that frightening,” Mr Jordan said.

Mr Jordan plans to release policing reform legislation of his own.

Donald Trump commended Mr Jordan on Twitter for his “great statement… concerning Defunding (not!) our great Police.”

While the president has sympathised with the family of Mr Floyd, he has also adopted a highly militaristic tone in response to protests calling for large scale police reform.

Last week, he called for governors handling the protests at the local level to "dominate" the streets with National Guardsmen and other law enforcement units to root out any riotous elements.

The White House is also preparing to roll out its own its own set of legislative and executive policing reform proposals, NBC News has reported, though no timetable has been announced.

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