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George Floyd's brother implores US Congress to act on police reform
Philonise Floyd (C), the brother of George Floyd, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability at the U.S. Capitol on June 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. The hearing comes after the death of George Floyd while in the custody of officers of the Minneapolis Police Department.
AFP/Mandel Ngan - Pool/Getty Images

George Floyd's brother implores US Congress to act on police reform

Michael Mathes (Agence France-Presse) - June 11, 2020 - 7:55am

WASHINGTON, United States — 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 act to fix law enforcement problems including systemic racism.

"I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain," the younger Floyd said.

"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, who wore an anti-virus mask bearing an image of his brother, wiped his forehead and fought back tears as he implored lawmakers to "listen to the call" he and protesters were making for justice.

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

'The pain of America'

George Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, when a white officer, who has since been charged with murder, pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests — some violent, most peaceful — erupted nationwide in some of the most serious US civil unrest in generations.

Lawmakers united in expressions of sorrow and support for Floyd, with longtime House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner telling him: "The pain of your brother I think has become the pain of America."

The five-hour-plus hearing came after congressional Democrats unveiled a package of reforms this week aimed at ending police brutality.

The legislation would ban choke holds, make it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, require anti-racism training and bar fired personnel from working in police forces in other districts.

It would also restrict police departments' use of qualified immunity, which shields officers from being held personally responsible for wrongdoing.

"If there is no accountability," Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump said, police brutality and other abuse "will keep happening."

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said that while most cops were decent and law-abiding, there was a "systemic problem" in law enforcement that requires comprehensive solutions.

"The nation demands and deserves meaningful change," Nadler said.

Killers 'will face justice'

With lawmakers agreeing on the need for a genuine discussion about police treatment of African Americans, several Republicans including Jim Jordan expressed their desire to enact reforms.

"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 heard too from the sister of a security officer who recently died in Oakland, California in a shooting blamed on protesters.

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

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

Tensions rose during an exchange between House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries and Dan Bongino, a conservative radio host and former Secret Service officer.

Jeffries noted how several white accused mass murderers were arrested without incident while many unarmed black Americans have been killed in police encounters.

"I don't know why you're making a racial thing of it," Bongino said.

"Because black lives matter, sir," Jeffries said, shooting Bongino a withering look.

"Yeah, all lives matter, sir," Bongino countered.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was launching reforms to provide "a new paradigm of peacekeeping" for the community.

The move is an apparent bid to appease the city council which recently pledged to dismantle the police force.

BLACK LIVES MATTER GEORGE FLOYD
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 30, 2020 - 7:34am

Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta were among several US cities to announce curfews Saturday in a bid to stem violent anti-police protests breaking out across America.

A nighttime curfew was also implemented in Louisville, Kentucky as the United States continues to be rocked by demonstrators angry at the death of a black man during an arrest in Minneapolis on Monday.

George Floyd was handcuffed and died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking the widespread protests against police brutality. — AFP

Photo: Demonstrators confront secret service police officers outside of the White House on May 30, 2020 in Washington DC, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25. Jose Luis Magana / AFP

October 30, 2020 - 7:34am

Philadelphia's mayor said Thursday a curfew he had put in effect the previous evening over unrest that followed the police killing of a Black man would not be maintained for a second night.

Mayor Jim Kenney nonetheless called on residents to stay home except in case of emergency.

"There will not be a citywide curfew this evening," Kenney wrote on Twitter.

"However, we encourage residents to remain home, unless travel is necessary."

The curfew had been in effect overnight in Pennsylvania's largest city after unrest triggered by Monday's fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace, which was captured on video posted to social media.

Thousands of people had taken to the streets, with looting and violence breaking out. Fifty-seven officers have been injured, one seriously, a police spokesman said.

The two days of unrest have also seen 210 arrests. — AFP

September 24, 2020 - 9:40am

One police officer was shot in the US city of Louisville in protests after charges were filed against only one policeman involved in the fatal shooting in March of black woman Breonna Taylor, police says

A police spokeswoman confirms the incident to AFP, without offering further details.

The condition of the police officer was not immediately known, the local Fox affiliate WDRB reports. — AFP

August 30, 2020 - 9:32am

US President Donald Trump will travel next week to the Midwestern city where African-American Jacob Blake was shot and grievously wounded by a white policeman, the White House said Saturday.

Trump will go to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday to meet with law enforcement officials and view damage from unrest triggered by Blake's shooting last weekend, White House spokesman Judd Deere said. — AFP

July 5, 2020 - 11:35am

Demonstrators chanting "Black Lives Matter" exchange words with activists waving pro-Trump signs outside a fortified White House: America's Independence Day was marked in Washington on Saturday by confrontation and disunity. 

As it struggles to contain the coronavirus and reckons with waves of protesters demanding racial justice, the United States is deeply polarized, with the gulf seemingly insurmountable on a day usually marking patriotism and unity.

The one thing people outside the White House — surrounded by an imposing police cordon — and on the nearby National Mall seemed to be able to agree on was that this was not where they wanted America be. — AFP

June 28, 2020 - 4:13pm

One person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a Black Lives Matter rally in the US state of Kentucky, police say.

The incident Saturday took place at Jefferson Square Park in the center of Louisville where protestors have gathered for weeks over the killing of African American woman Breonna Taylor. 

Her death in March helped fuel a campaign against racism and police brutality in the United States that has since spread across the globe. — AFP

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