George Floyd’s Brother, Philonise Floyd, Asks Congress: ‘Is That What A Black Man’s Worth — $20?’

Philonise Floyd testified before the House Judiciary Committee on June 10, asking lawmakers to take action against police brutality. He asked that his brother, George Floyd's death be not 'in vain.'

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Philonise Floyd cried as he remembered the “big brother” he’d never see again, George Floyd, during a heated House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 10. “I’m tired. I’m tired of the pain I’m feeling now and I’m tired of the pain I feel every time another black person is killed for no reason. I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired,” Floyd told the lawmakers, who he implored to make sure his brother’s cruel death wasn’t “in vain.”

“This is 2020. Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs. Do the right thing,” Floyd, continuing to fight back tears, said. “The people elected you to speak for them, to make positive change. George’s name means something. You have the opportunity here to make your names mean something, too.”

The officers in Minneapolis arrested his brother on May 25 after a convenience store clerk alleged that he had used a counterfeit $20 to buy cigarettes. During the arrest, a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the ground with his knee for nine minutes as he struggled to breathe. He died soon after at the hospital.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder; the three other officers at the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder. “He didn’t deserve to die over twenty dollars. I am asking you, is that what a black man is worth?” Floyd said during the testimony.

Philonise Floyd
Philonise Floyd testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, 6/10/20 (MICHAEL REYNOLDS /EPA-EFE /Shutterstock)

He wept as he described the pain of watching his brother’s death on camera. “I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to Perry while he was here. I was robbed of that,” he said, using his brother’s nickname. During the hearing, Floyd was wearing a protective face mask emblazoned with a photo of George Floyd and his last words: “I can’t breathe.”

After weeks of protests across the nation demanding police reforms following the death of Floyd, and more Black Americans, lawmakers on both sides of the House have vowed tougher laws aimed at racial profiling and police brutality. Congressional Democrats on June 8 introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. The bill calls for mandatory dashboard and body cameras, a ban on chokeholds, and a ban on “no-knock” warrants for drug cases — which is how 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed.

Philonise Floyd
Philonise Floyd speaks at his brother’s memorial service in Minneapolis, 6/4/20 (Julio Cortez/AP/Shutterstock)

“Millions of Americans now call out ‘I can’t breath’ as a rallying cry in the streets all across our country, demanding a fundamental change in the culture of law enforcement and meaningful accountability for officers who commit misconduct.,” Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who chairs the House Judiciary panel, said before the hearing. “Today, we answer their call.”

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