A still-grieving Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, testified on Wednesday before the United States Congress in support of police reforms proposed by Democratic politicians.
“I’m tired. I’m tired of pain, the pain you feel when you watch your big brother – who you looked up to your whole life – die, begging for his mom,” Floyd said.
“He did not deserve to die over 20 dollars. Is that what a Black man’s life is worth?” Floyd asked, as he called for justice for his late brother – whom friends and family called “Perry”.
Now, Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced sweeping reform legislation to address police brutality. The bill is headed for a vote in the House by the end of June, but faces opposition from Republicans and President Donald Trump, setting up an emotionally-charged political contest going into November’s US elections.
Floyd died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis on May 25 on suspicion of attempting to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. With Floyd handcuffed, face down on the street, and restrained by three cops, a white officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck until he went unconscious and his heart stopped beating. The scene was recorded by a bystander, and the video – distributed via social media – triggered protests and riots nationwide.
The House bill would ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling and eliminate judicial immunity for officers charged with abuse. A House vote could come by the end of June.
In the US Senate, five Republican senators led by Senator Tim Scott, the Senate’s only African-American Republican, are developing alternative legislation that may offer compromises to Democrats but would carry limited change.
Scott told reporters at the US Capitol that the bill would focus on training for police in de-escalation tactics but would not ban chokeholds or adopt other proposals Democrats want. Scott said he hopes to get a Senate vote on the bill by early July.
Meanwhile, throughout the US at local and state levels, public officials are proposing sweeping changes.
Trump is scheduled to meet with police officials in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday and will give remarks on his views of police reforms proposals, a White House spokesman told reporters.
In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, the city council has voted to dismantle the police department, which civic leaders judged cannot be reformed, and will seek to create a new public safety system.