11 Jun 2020

George Floyd's brother urges US Congress to pass police reforms

6:58 am on 11 June 2020

The brother of the African American man whose death in police custody has sparked global protests has urged the US Congress to pass reforms on police brutality and "stop the pain".

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on police brutality and racial profiling on 10 June 2020.

Philonise Floyd told Congress to "do the right thing". Photo: AFP / Getty Images

Philonise Floyd told a House hearing that his brother George could not become "another name on a list".

"Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs," Mr Floyd said.

George Floyd died in Minneapolis in May as a white police officer held a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The final moments were filmed on phones.

Four police officers involved have been sacked and charged over his death.

What was said in the House?

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee have been listening to testimony from civil rights activists and law enforcement officials, a day after the funeral service of George Floyd, 46, in Houston.

The committee plans to send a bill to the floor of the Democrat-led House by 4 July on combating police violence and racial injustice.

It comes amid a nationwide - and in many cases international - debate on police practices and accountability, and more generally on racial inequity.

Pallbearers bring the coffin into the church for the funeral of George Floyd on June 9, 2020, in Houston, Texas

The hearing comes a day after the funeral of George Floyd in Houston Photo: AFP

"I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain," an emotional Philonise Floyd, 42, told lawmakers. "George called for help and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the calls of our family and the calls ringing on the streets of all the world.

"The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough."

Democrat committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said: "We must remember that [George Floyd] is not just a cause, a name to be chanted in the streets. He was a man. He had a family... we mourn his loss."

The Democrat-proposed bill would make so-called police chokeholds illegal, enforce anti-racism training, bar sacked officers from switching to another force and make it easier to prosecute abuse.

Republican committee representative Matt Gaetz said that although elements needed to be "fine-tuned", "you will be able to count on Republican co-operation as we hone these ideas and hopefully pass them and get them to the president's desk".

A spokesperson for Mr Trump said on Wednesday that the president would have "proactive policy prescriptions, whether that means legislation or an executive order".

What is happening with the Minneapolis police?

As the House hearing was taking place, the police chief in Minneapolis said that his department "absolutely" could be reformed and vowed not to let George Floyd's death be in vain.

Medaria Arradondo said one reform would be to introduce a new early warning system to identify the conduct of police officers.

On Sunday, a majority of the city council's members vowed to disband the police department and replace it with a new model of public safety.

"Defund the police" has been a rallying call for many protesters nationwide. It has been opposed by both President Trump and his Democratic challenger in November's election, Joe Biden.

What other developments have there been?

  • In New Jersey, a FedEx employee and a corrections officer have been suspended from their jobs after a video emerged of two men appearing to re-enact the death of George Floyd in an attempt to taunt people protesting against police brutality.
  • A New York police officer has been charged with assault after a woman protester was allegedly thrown to the ground during a rally on 29 May in Brooklyn.
  • Police in Minneapolis are investigating Facebook posts reportedly from an active officer that mocked protesters and encouraged looters to target a neighbourhood popular with Somali immigrants.
  • More than 1200 former US justice department employees have urged an internal inquiry into Attorney-General William Barr's role in forcefully dispersing demonstrators from Lafayette Square near the White House on 1 June to clear a path for President Trump to stage a photo op.
  • Anti-racism protesters continue to target statues they believe glorify imperialist history. A statue of Christopher Columbus was dumped in a lake in Virginia and another had its head cut off in Boston.