- George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, will testify before Congress on policing practices and law enforcement accountability on Wednesday, according to ABC News.
- It will be the House’s first hearing on police brutality after the death of George Floyd in police custody, and a package of police reforms is expected on Monday.
- Public pressure is mounting for significant changes to police institutions in response to police brutality, as civil demonstrations emerge in all 50 states.
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George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, will testify before Congress on Wednesday, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on police reforms, according to ABC News.
The hearing will be the House’s first on police brutality since Floyd’s death, after House and Senate Democrats introduce an expected package of policing reforms on Monday, June 8.
Minneapolis police killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, while he was unarmed and handcuffed in their custody. The officers had responded to a report of a potentially counterfeit $20 bill.
Security footage and witness videos show former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, despite pleas from bystanders to stop, and Floyd saying “I can’t breathe” eleven times and “they’re going to kill me.” Videos show Chauvin did not remove his knee even after Floyd lost consciousness.
All four officers were fired the following day. This week, Chauvin’s charges were expanded to include the more serious charge of second-degree murder. The other three officers — Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
George Floyd’s killing has inspired civil rights demonstrations in at least 700 cities and towns across all 50 states and around the world. On the heels of centuries of systemic racism, the high-profile killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, the infamous Amy Cooper incident, and a global pandemic that has hit Black Americans disproportionately hard, the protests have a compounded intensity.
Many protesters call for a divest/invest model that divests from police departments and invests money into resources such as mental health and social services in communities disproportionately affected by poverty and a lack of adequate resources. Proponents want to reduce the number of punitive measures while introducing more restorative and potentially sustainable practices for increasing public safety. For example, allocating more money to education, food security, jobs, and introducing more after-school programs and counselors.
Public pressure has already resulted in Minneapolis Parks and Recreation, high schools, and universities to end their contracts with the MPD. Minneapolis city councilors have also publicly committed to implementing a “transformative new model of public safety.”
“Several of us on the council are working on finding out what it would take to disband the MPD and start fresh with a community-oriented, non-violent public safety and outreach capacity,” Ward 3 Councilmember Steve Fletcher tweeted.
Speaking in New York, Philonise Floyd remembered his brother as someone who made other people feel important.
“They felt like they was the president. That’s how he made you feel,” Philonise Floyd said. “It’s amazing to me that he touched so many people’s hearts ’cause he’s been touching our hearts.”
Philonise Floyd also spoke to both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden “talked to me for like 10 … 15 minutes. And I was trying to talk his ear off because he was talking to me constantly. Great conversation. But Trump, it lasted probably two minutes,” he told CNN in an interview. “He didn’t give me an opportunity to even speak.”
“There are now protests taking place in every state as people take a stand against police brutality and racism,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement announcing the hearing “People are rightfully upset, they are frustrated, and they want to be heard. They want real change, not meaningless words. I want Americans to know that I hear them, and I see them.”
Videos of police brutality at civil rights demonstrations have only increased public awareness, including a recent viral video of police pushing a 75-year-old man who fell back and began bleeding from the head in Buffalo, New York. But, in response to the suspension of the two officers involved, 57 Buffalo Police resigned in protest.
The police reform package expected on Monday will likely be met with resistance from police unions and their allies, elements which have made Minneapolis itself a textbook example of how cops resist reform. Democrats believe they will be able to pass it in the House, but the outcome is less clear in the Senate, where the Republican majority is likely to seek smaller changes.