Washington, Jun 10 (efe-epa).- Philonise Floyd, the brother of the African American man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis cops sparked a wave of protests across the US, on Wednesday called on Congress to act to ensure that George Floyd did not die “in vain” and to ask themselves “what a black man’s life is worth.”
Saying that he was tired of the pain he’s feeling today and of the pain he feels each time another black man is killed “for no reason,” George Floyd’s younger brother said in emotional testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that he was appearing before lawmakers to tell them that “He didn’t deserve to die over $20. I am asking you, is that what a black man’s life is worth? Twenty dollars? This is 2020. Enough is enough.”
Floyd died on May 25 while being arrested by Minneapolis police for allegedly trying to make a purchase at a local store using a fake $20 bill. The officers arrested Floyd, handcuffed him and placed him face down on the pavement, where a white officer – Derek Chauvin – knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, asphyxiating him.
“George wasn’t hurting anyone that day,” said the younger Floyd, telling lawmakers in the hearing on police brutality to “Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs. Do the right thing.”
He said that he always called his brother “Perry,” and that he and other family members buried him in Houston beside his mother’s grave on Tuesday, calling that the hardest thing he’s ever had to do.
“He was our gentle giant. I was reminded of that when I watched the video of his murder,” Floyd said about his older brother. “He was mild mannered; he didn’t fight back. He listened to the officers. He called them ‘sir.’ The men who took his life, who suffocated him for eight minutes and 46 seconds. He still called them ‘sir’ as he begged for his life.”
Floyd went on to say: “I can’t tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch something like that. When you watch your big brother, who you’ve looked up to your whole life, die. Die begging for your mom.”
In his testimony, Floyd implored legislators to see to it that his brother’s death leads to meaningful change. “I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired,” Floyd said.
“It is on you to make sure his death isn’t in vain,” he said.
He urged lawmakers to honor his brother’s memory by making the changes that are needed in US security forces, including the police, to ensure that they are the solution, not the problem, and that officers who violate people’s civil rights are held accountable for their actions, referring to the numerous white police officers who have been exonerated after killing unarmed black suspects in their custody.
Floyd called on lawmakers to teach police what it means to treat people with empathy and respect and that lethal force should only be used on rare occasions and when someone’s life is in danger.
“George’s name means something,” Floyd told the committee members. “If his death ends up changing the world for the better. And I think it will. I think it has. Then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death isn’t in vain.”
Floyd ended his remarks by directing a personal message to his deceased brother, saying: “Perry, look at what you did, big brother. You’re changing the world. Thank you for everything. For taking care of us when you were on Earth, and for taking care of all of us now. I hope you found mama and can rest in peace and power.”