Floyd brother tells US Congress 'stop the pain,' pass police reform


Washington (AFP)

The brother of George Floyd, whose killing by police sparked worldwide protests against racism, made an emotional plea to the US Congress Wednesday to "stop the pain" and pass reforms that reduce police brutality.

One day after burying his brother in Houston, Philonise Floyd appeared in person before a House hearing, where he described the anguish of watching a viral video of George's death and demanded lawmakers address the systemic problems in law enforcement.

"I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired," the younger Floyd said, wiping his forehead and holding back tears.

"I can't tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch... your big brother, who you looked up to your whole entire life, die -- die begging for his mom," he said.

"He didn't deserve to die, over $20," he said, referring to his brother's alleged effort to use a counterfeit bill before his arrest.

"I'm asking you: is that what a black man is worth, $20?" Floyd thundered. "This is 2020. Enough is enough."

Floyd described how his brother's repeated calls for help were ignored.

"Please listen to the call I'm making to you now, to the call of our family and the calls ringing out in the streets across the world," said Floyd, who wore an anti-virus mask bearing an image of his brother.

"Maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death will not be in vain."

George Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, when a white officer pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Video of the abuse went viral, and protests -- some violent, most peaceful -- erupted from coast to coast in some of the most serious US civil unrest in generations.

- Killers 'will face justice' -

The testimony came two days after congressional Democrats unveiled a package of sweeping reforms aimed at reducing systemic racism in US law enforcement.

The legislation seeks to end police brutality in part by making it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, requiring anti-racism training and barring fired officers from working in police forces in other districts.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said that while most cops were decent and law-abiding, he acknowledged the need to address a "systemic problem" in law enforcement that requires a comprehensive solution.

"If there is one thing I have taken away from the tragic events of the last month, it is that the nation demands and deserves meaningful change," Nadler said.

The panel's top Republican Jim Jordan joined in saying it was "time for a real discussion" about police treatment of African Americans, in the latest sign that Republicans also want to make changes to the system.

"It's as wrong as wrong can be," Jordan told Philonise Floyd about George's death, "and your brother's killers will face justice."

Lawmakers also heard from the sister of a protective services officer who was killed last month in Oakland, California in a shooting blamed on protesters.

"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," Angela Underwood Jacobs told the hearing.

"We will never solve generational, systemic injustice with looting, burning, destruction of property and killing in the name of justice," said Jacobs, who extended her condolences to Floyd's brother.

She also described as "ridiculous" the calls by some Democrats to "defund the police," an effort that has been attacked by President Donald Trump and Republicans as dangerous and misguided.