Politics

George Floyd's brother testifies before Congress: 'Stop the pain'

Key Points
  • Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testified Wednesday before a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on police brutality and racial profiling
  • On Monday, top congressional Democrats unveiled a bill to overhaul police practices.
  • George Floyd died during a Memorial Day arrest, when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
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'Enough is enough': George Floyd's brother tells Congress

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, implored lawmakers Wednesday to act so that his brother's death after being brought into police custody was "not in vain."

"I'm tired. 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 said in prepared remarks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on police brutality and racial profiling. 

"I'm here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired," Floyd said. 

"George's calls for help were ignored," he continued. "Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family, and to the calls ringing out in the streets across the world."

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, gives his opening statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability at the U.S. Capitol on June 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Michael Reynolds | Getty Images

The hearing comes as the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was in the custody of Minneapolis police, has prompted a new national dialogue on police reform. Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck to restrain him for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with Floyd's murder. Three other former cops have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The police had originally been called on Floyd on suspicion he had used a counterfeit bill.

"George wasn't hurting anyone that day,"  his brother said. "He didn't deserve to die over $20. I'm asking you, is that what a black man's life is worth? $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough."

On Monday, top congressional Democrats unveiled a bill to overhaul police practices. Proposals include the creation of a federal registry of police misconduct and an end to the qualified immunity protections afforded police officers that make it harder to prosecute alleged violations of constitutional rights. It would also ban police use of chokeholds and carotid restraints.

"Honor George," said his brother, "and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution – and not the problem."

He added: "Hold them accountable when they do something wrong. Teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect. Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk."

Later, Angela Underwood-Jacobs, whose brother Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal officer, was killed outside a courthouse in Oakland, California, pleaded for change so that her own brother did not die in vain. 

Lancaster (California) City Council member Angela Underwood-Jacobs gives her opening statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S. June 10, 2020.
Michael Reynolds | Reuters

"I want America to make a change," she said. "I want you as our representatives in Congress to make a change so that no one ever has to wake up to the phone call that I received telling me that my brother was shot dead and murdered. How my brother died was wrong and I am praying that we learn something about how he lived."

In later prepared testimony, experts debated best changes to make to the police force, some of which are part of the Democrats' proposal, and some of which are not. 

Darrell Scott, a member of President Donald Trump's executive transition team and senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center, warned of the risks of defunding the police. While some mayors, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, have supported limiting police budgets, a broad-based movement to defund the police does not have backing from either Democratic leaders in Congress or presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

"An absence of police presence could potentially give rise to acts of domestic terrorism, mob rule, neighborhood intimidation and oppression, and vigilante-ism," said Scott.  

He warned that cities could see the same rise in crime that Detroit did after it cut the city's police budget. Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013