On Wednesday George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee in Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to reform law enforcement and to combat systemic racism.
“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,” said Philonise Floyd during the hearing.
“I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired.”
The hearing, which seeks to “examine the crisis of racial profiling, police brutality and lost trust between police departments,” comes two days after congressional Democrats unveiled a bill that aims to reform the policing system.
The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would ban chokeholds, no knock warrants, mandate the use of body cameras and create a national registry to track police misconduct among other reforms.
Philonise Floyd, in an emotional plea, urged the House to “do the right thing.”
“He didn’t deserve to die over 20 dollars. I am asking you, is that what a black man’s life is worth? Twenty dollars? This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs. Do the right thing. The people elected you to speak for them, to make positive change. George’s name means something. You have the opportunity here to make your names mean something, too.
“I couldn’t take care of George that day he was killed, but maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death would not be in vain. To make sure that he is more than another face on a T-shirt. More than another name on a list that won’t stop growing.”
Wednesday’s hearing, which also featured testimonies from law enforcement, civil rights group members, legal organizations as well as Floyd’s family attorney Benjamin Crump, marked an important step toward moving the Democrats’ bill. The hearing will be followed by several weeks of discussions in the House Judiciary Committee after which a full house debate will be held. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats aim to pass the bill through the House by the end of the month.
During the hearing, Republicans criticized the piece of legislation and in response are also in the midst of drafting their own reform bill led by South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
One of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan stated that the Democrats’ legislation was an excessive measure that smeared the entire law enforcement system.
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers are responsible, hard working, heroic first responders,” Jordan said.
“They’re the officers who protect the Capitol, protect us every single day, they’re the officers who rushed into the twin towers on 911. They’re the officers in every one of our neighborhoods in every one of our communities. Every day, every night, every shift, they work to put their lives on the line to keep our community safe.
“There’s a big difference between peaceful protests and violence and attacking innocent people,” Jordan explained. “And there is certainly a big difference between peaceful protests and killing police officers.”
Republicans also invited Angela Underwood Jacobs whose brother and law enforcement officer David Patrick Underwood, was killed during a protest in Oakland.
“Fear, hatred, ignorance and blind violence snatched the life of my brother Patrick from all of us,” Jacobs said. “Every day the actions of a few are dividing us as a nation at a time when we should be coming together and uniting for the well-being of all people. We will never solve generational, systemic injustice with looting, burning, destruction of property and killing in the name of justice.”
Toward the end of the hearing, Philonise Floyd told lawmakers that if his brother’s death “ends up changing the world for the better – and I think it will, I think it has – then he died as he lived.”
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