George Floyd’s brother, one of 12 witnesses who appeared before the House judiciary committee for an oversight hearing on “policing practices and law enforcement accountability,” pleaded with lawmakers to end police brutality.
“I couldn’t take care of George the day he was killed, but maybe by speaking with you today, I can help make sure that his death isn’t in vain.”
Philonise Floyd was emotional in his testimony about the police killing of his older brother, which was captured on video.
“I can’t tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch something like that,” he said. “When you watch your big brother, who you’ve looked up to your whole life, die. Die begging for your mom.
“I hope you found mama and can rest in peace and power.”
George Floyd was buried in his hometown of Houston on Tuesday, next to his mother. He died May 25 following an arrest by Minneapolis police officers, an event that spurred mass protests worldwide against police brutality. Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin faces a second-degree murder charge and three others are being charged as accomplices.
“I’m tired of the pain I’m feeling now and I’m tired of the pain I feel every time another black person is killed for no reason,” Floyd added. “I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain.”
Wednesday’s hearing is the first for House Democrats’ Justice in Policing Act, which was unveiled Monday and proposes a series of federal reforms, including a ban on police chokeholds, a national database to track police misconduct and bars some “no-knock” warrants.
Panel Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler opened the hearing by saying the legislative efforts aren’t an indictment of all police officers, but attempts to fix “a systemic problem that requires a comprehensive solution.”
Ranking Republican Rep. Jim Jordan denounced calls nationally to defund police departments, which Minneapolis councilors said last weekend they plan to do. Many Democrats, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, have also said dissolving police forces wouldn’t be a good idea.
Also at Wednesday’s hearing was family attorney Ben Crump, who’s represented other families of black Americans who died under controversial circumstances, including Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012.
“Changing the behavior of police and their relationship with people of color starts at the top,” Crump told the panel. “We need a national standard for policing behavior built on transparency and accountability.”
Crump called for stripping police officers of “qualified immunity” that shield them from civil lawsuits in accusations of misconduct.
“When there is qualified immunity, police officers know that they act with impunity,” he said.
Also testifying at Wednesday’s hearing is NCAAP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill; Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo; civil rights advocate Vanita Gupta; Ohio pastor Darrell Scott; Georgetown law professor Paul Butler; Ron Davis of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; commentator Daniel Bongino; Center for Policing Equity founder Phillip Goff; National Urban League CEO Marc Morial; and Lancaster, Calif., City Councilor Angela Underwood Jacobs, whose brother in federal law enforcement was killed during protests in Oakland, Calif.
“It is a ridiculous solution to proclaim that defunding police departments is a solution to police brutality and discrimination because it is not a solution,” Underwood Jacobs said. “It gets us nowhere as a nation and removes a safety net of protection that every citizen deserves.”
Senate Republicans have proposed an alternative to the Democratic bill that calls for 10 reforms, including mandatory reporting of uses of force that result in death or serious injury and creating a FBI data collection system.