George Floyd’s Brother Tells House He’s ‘Tired of the Pain’
(Bloomberg) -- The brother of George Floyd, the African American man whose death in police custody set off nationwide protests and inspired demands for reform, called on Congress Wednesday to “make it stop” and ensure his brother’s killing leads to positive change.
“I’m tired of pain. The pain you feel when you watch something like
that. When you watch your big brother who you looked up to for your whole life die, die begging for his mom,” Philonise Floyd told the House Judiciary Committee as lawmakers consider legislation to change policing practices in the U.S. “I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain.”
In opening the hearing, committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York said, “Every day African Americans and other people of color live in fear of harassment and violence at the hands of some law enforcement officers.” He said “the nation is demanding that we enact meaningful change. This is a systemic problem that requires a comprehensive solution.”
Representative Jim Jordan, the committee’s top Republican, said “there is a big difference between peaceful protests and rioting” and the “vast majority” of police officers are heroic public servants.
Jordan challenged Democrats to more forcefully reject activist demands to “defund the police.”
The House is considering a broad slate of proposals that could make it easier to prosecute and sue officers, ban federal officers from using chokeholds, create a national registry for police violations, and require police departments that get federal funds to conduct bias training and use de-escalation tactics.
President Donald Trump has been working “quietly and diligently” on his own list of proposals on policing to release in coming days, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday. She said he believes most officers are good and called them our “domestic heroes.”
Philonise Floyd said earlier in the day,“The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough.”
“George wasn’t hurting anyone that day. Did he deserve to die over $20?” he said, referring to a counterfeit bill that his brother allegedly used in a convenience store.
He asked lawmakers to “make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution – and not the problem. Hold them accountable when they do something wrong.”
“Teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect,” he said. “Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk.”
Art Acevedo, Houston’s police chief and head of a group of big-city chiefs, said “we hear you.” He said his department is “majority minority” and cited the problem of what he called “gypsy cops,” who are removed from one police department for misdeeds only to be hired by another.
Another witness at Wednesday’s hearing, Angela Underwood-Jacobs, described the shooting death of her brother Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal protective officer who was killed in May while guarding a courthouse in Oakland, California.
Underwood-Jacobs, a former City Council member in Lancaster, California, was among the witnesses requested by Republicans, and she echoed Jordan’s emphasis on the danger from protests that turn violent.
“How my brother died was wrong and I am praying we learn something from how he lived,” she said. She criticized calls for defunding the police and said the government should focus on reducing inequality through education, housing policy and job creation.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, a California Democrat, said when Democrats proposed their plan on Monday, “It is the cell-phone camera that has exposed the continuation of violence directed at African Americans by the police and exposed the reality that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not guaranteed to all African Americans at all times.”
A mobile phone camera captured the final moments of George Floyd’s life while he was being held on the ground in police custody on May 25. Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder after the video showed him pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe. Three other officers involved in the episode have been charged with aiding and abetting in the death.
Philonise Floyd testified that his brother and Chauvin knew each other and he believed the police officer’s actions were premeditated. They both worked in the past providing security in a Minneapolis club and may have crossed paths, CBS News reported.
In the Senate, Republicans are studying proposals to improve police practices in response to the massive demonstrations over Floyd’s killing, including racial bias training, increased use of body cameras and finally enacting the first federal anti-lynching law.
The task force that will write the GOP proposal will be led by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black member of the Senate’s majority party. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Jared Kushner, a presidential adviser and Donald Trump’s son in law, met with Scott Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
House Republicans may unveil their proposal by Friday in an effort led by Jordan of Ohio.
Even the staunchly conservative Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida said he would support limits on chokeholds and on “bad cops who move around,” although he joined other Republicans in asserting that Democrats failed to denounce violent protests and calls to “defund” the police.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said Democrats are open to looking at Jordan’s ideas and voting on them in committee next week as part of the consideration of the Justice in Policing Act.
On Tuesday, a funeral service was held for Floyd in his hometown of Houston. He was later buried next to his mother.
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