Brother describes George Floyd’s death as modern-day lynching
WASHINGTON – George Floyd’s younger brother took his grief to the United States Congress on Wednesday with an impassioned plea that lawmakers not let his brother’s death be in vain, lamenting that he “didn’t deserve to die over $20” in a what he called a lynching.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held the first congressional hearing to examine racial injustice and police brutality following George Floyd’s May 25 death after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death prompted a wave of protests in U.S. cities and abroad.
“They lynched my brother. That was a modern-day lynching in broad daylight,” Philonise Floyd, 42, of Missouri City, Texas, near Houston, told the committee, his voice breaking with emotion.
“His life mattered. All our lives matter. Black lives matter,” he added, wiping away tears.
The Democratic-led House is moving forward with sweeping reform legislation that could come to a vote by July 4, while Senate Republicans are crafting a rival plan.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old Houston native who had worked security at nightclubs, was unarmed when taken into custody outside a market where an employee had reported that a man matching his description tried to pay for cigarettes with a counterfeit bill.
“George wasn’t hurting anyone that day. He didn’t deserve to die over $20. I’m asking you, is that what a black man’s worth? $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough,” his brother said. “It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain.”
He buried his brother on Tuesday and described how they had not been able to say goodbye.
“I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain,” Philonise Floyd testified. “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.”
It is unclear whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to overcome partisan differences to pass legislation that President Donald Trump would be willing to sign.
Several Republicans pledged cooperation and voiced support for a pivotal provision that would scale back so-called qualified immunity protections that shield police from lawsuits by people suing for damages.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, who said the Republican president may take policy action on race and policing through an executive order, called reduced qualified immunity a “non-starter”. McEnany said Trump’s administration has nearly finalised plans to address police brutality that could be made public within days.
Police officer Derek Chauvin was fired after the incident and charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. George Floyd and Chauvin worked as security personnel at the same nightclub.
Philonise Floyd said Chauvin knew his brother and killed him with premeditation “just because he didn’t like him”, adding that “it has to have something to do with racism”.
The emotionally charged hearing had lawmakers and witnesses including several civil rights advocates expressing sorrow over Floyd’s death, the latest in a series of killings of African-Americans by police that have sparked anger on America’s streets and fresh calls for reforms (Reuters)