“The people elected you to speak for them to make positive change. George’s name means something. You have the opportunity today to make your names mean something, too,” Philonise Floyd said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing.
“If his death ends up changing the world for the better—and I think it will—then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain.”
Speaking to his brother, who he called Perry, Floyd said: “Perry, look at what you did, big brother. You changed the world. Thank you for everything.”
Philonise Floyd said there were many who loved his brother, including his children. Younger than George Floyd, Philonise said he has to be the strong one, filling the role his brother traditionally did.
He said he traveled to the hearing in an effort to make Floyd “more than another face on a T-shirt, more than another name on a list that won’t stop growing.”
He described his brother as “a gentle giant” who was mild-mannered and called police officers “sir.”
Video footage captured by bystanders watching Floyd being arrested for alleged forgery in Minneapolis on May 25 showed three officers pinning Floyd to the ground, including one, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
Philonise Floyd said he felt immense pain watching the video, urging lawmakers “to make it stop.”
“Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired. 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 out in the streets across the world,” he said.
Examples of what he wants, Philonise Floyd said, are holding police officers accountable when they do something wrong and teaching them that deadly force should only be used rarely and when life is at risk.
He wondered whether his brother deserved to die over $20, the amount of money George Floyd was accused of using illegally.
Other witnesses scheduled to speak included Pastor Darrell Scott of the New Spirit Revival Center, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, and Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers representing Floyd’s family.
Acevedo, who also heads the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, spoke out against defunding police departments, telling lawmakers via virtual testimony that even underfunding the police “can have disastrous consequences and hurt those most in need of our services.”
Adequate funding can ensure body cameras for every officer, investment in other technologies, and the hiring of qualified officers who are service-minded.
Acevedo, a Cuban-American, argued that the majority of police officers are not racist, but said he supports some reform of law enforcement.
“We must learn from what is being shared with us. That includes being honest about our history. We must acknowledge that law enforcement’s past includes institutional racism, injustices, and brutality. We must acknowledge that policing has had a disparate treatment and impact on disenfranchised communities, especially communities of color and poor communities.”