George Floyd's brother calls for change to policing

George Floyd's brother calls for change to policing 1

Philonise Floyd called on Congress Tuesday to create a legacy for his brother’s murder by overhauling policing in America.

“This is the day he set the world in a rage and people realized what is happening in America, and we said enough is enough,” he said at the U.S. Capitol on the anniversary of his brother’s murder, flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Also at his side was George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, who famously said in a video clip, “Daddy changed the world,” amid the international protests last summer sparked by her father’s murder by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

“We need meaningful legislation. We need to get this taken care of. Just like Gianna said,” Mr. Floyd said, who turned to ask his niece what needs to happen.

“Change the world,” she said.

“And if a child can see that, we as adults should be able to see that,” Mr. Floyd said. “We should all be able to see that we should all be able to work together. We need to be making sure people don’t live in fear in America anymore.”

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The Floyd family is scheduled to meet with President Biden at the White House Tuesday afternoon.

Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who represents the family, also called for strong legislation.

“What we hope to do at all of those meetings is to continue to say, let’s don’t lose this moment,” Mr. Crump said on SiriusXM radio’s “The Joe Madison Show.”

“It’s been 57 years since we’ve had meaningful police reform. And this is our moment to finally pass some federal legislation with teeth in it,” he said. “We have to show them again, because if they didn’t see what happened in the last election, that Black people coming out to vote in those urban cities in record numbers was something that they need to account for, then we need to show them that our votes matter. Not just our lives matter, but our votes matter. And I do think people from the other side of the aisle, they take for granted that we won’t come out to vote, that we will be apathetic.”

However, congressional Democrats and Republicans negotiating a policing bill are divided over how far to go. They failed to meet a deadline set by Mr. Biden to reach a deal by the anniversary of Floyd’s murder. A particular sticking point is a demand from the left to eliminate a shield that makes it difficult to sue police officers for their actions in the line of duty. 

As the milestone came without a deal, Mrs. Pelosi said Gianna Floyd’s prediction about her father’s impact on the world would come true.

“And it’s coming true because of so many people who worked so hard to make it true,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

The lead negotiators working on the bill — Sen. Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat, and Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican — said in a joint statement Monday night that they’re trying to reach a deal. 

“While we are still working through our differences on key issues, we continue to make progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic,” they said.

Ms. Bass, at the event with George Floyd’s family, defended missing the deadline.

“I renew the commitment that we will get this bill on President Biden’s desk,” she said.

“What is important when it reaches President Biden’s desk is that it is a substantive piece of legislation, and that is more important than whether it is done by a certain date,” she said.

Civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, also used the anniversary to push for strong changes to policing. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed by House Democrats in March would make a number of significant changes across the nation. It would bar racial profiling by police, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants by federal law enforcement officers, and strip federal dollars from local police agencies that do not do the same. It also would create a national database of police officers who are fired or leave a department after being accused of misconduct so they cannot simply move to a different law enforcement agency.

Most controversially, it would eliminate a legal doctrine called “qualified immunity” that shields police officers from being sued for violating the civil rights of others. Mr. Scott, though, has said he is not willing to expose police officers to lawsuits.

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