- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The march toward a major legislative overhaul of the country’s police forces gained momentum Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, pleaded with lawmakers not to let his brother’s death be in vain.

He called what happened to his brother in the custody of Minneapolis police a “modern-day lynching in broad daylight,” but he said he thinks the tragic death could end up “changing the world for the better.”

“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,” he told the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being killed.”

The emotionally charged testimony at a hearing on police brutality echoed as lawmakers hurry to respond to the outrage and demands for change. Floyd died after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

A bill Democrats introduced Monday would make sweeping changes to policing, including mandating anti-bias training, creating national use-of-force standards and making it easier to sue officers for misconduct in the line of duty.

It would ban chokeholds and “no knock” warrants and make lynching a hate crime.

SEE ALSO: House Judiciary Committee shines spotlight on policing practices, praise and reforms

Senate Republicans are drafting their own bill, led by Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the chamber.

The proposals under consideration on the Republican side also include an anti-lynching provision, banning “no knock” warrants, reforming training protocols, and beefing up laws and funding for body cameras.

President Trump is considering an executive order to revamp policing policies throughout the country, though he still wants to see legislative options, the White House said.

Republicans said they want to work with Democrats on the bill and noted that there were already several areas of agreement.

The violence and looting that erupted during two weeks of anti-police protests transformed the debate into arguments of racial justice versus law and order.

Angela Underwood Jacobs, whose brother, Federal Protective Service Officer David “Patrick” Underwood was killed in Oakland, California, while guarding a courthouse during the protests, also testified.

“Police brutality of any kind must not be condoned. However, it is blatantly wrong to create an excuse of discrimination and disparity to loot and burn our communities, to kill our officers of the law,” said Ms. Underwood Jacobs, who is black.

“It is a ridiculous solution to proclaim that defunding police departments is a solution to police brutality and discrimination,” she said.

She was alluding to one of the shadows hanging over the congressional debate: demands by activists to defund police departments, an agenda eschewed by Republicans and moderate Democrats.

In Seattle, activists calling themselves the “Free Capitol Hill” movement have dominated several neighborhoods for days. They published a list of demands Tuesday on behalf of “black voices” aimed at economics, education, health and the justice system.

The most notable demand was to abolish the Seattle Police Department, which mirrors demands by activists in cities across America. The Seattle group also demanded a total defunding of courts, the abolition of imprisonment and the cancellation of police pensions.

The Minneapolis City Council has bowed to the calls to dismantle its police department. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said government leaders can have that debate but he will continue to protect residents.

“I will not leave them behind,” he said, noting there would need to be a plan to replace law enforcement in the community for residents’ safety.

Republicans put the radical anti-police agenda at the forefront of the debate.

“While I think that we can fine-tune elements to ensure that we don’t defund the police, that we don’t make our communities less safe, I do think there is not a legitimate defense of chokeholds or lynching or bad cops that get shuttled around,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican.

“You will be able to count on Republican cooperation as we hone these ideas and hopefully pass them and get them to the president’s desk,” he said.

Democrats countered that the measures criticized by Republicans, such as defunding police, were not in the House bill.

Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is leading the legislative effort, said the proposed changes reflect a nation coming to grips with a history of racial injustice.

“This is about the kind of America we all want to see,” Ms. Bass said.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said federal standards for police and a national database of offenders would help keep bad cops off of forces.

He noted that Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck and now faces second-degree murder charges, had 16 previous complaints filed against him.

“He should have been out of the force,” Philonise Floyd said Wednesday. “Any officer committed the act like that shouldn’t be able to get a job in any county after they get fired.”

Philonise Floyd also said Mr. Chauvin and his brother knew each other from when they worked security at a nightclub and argued that he believed racism was at the root of the killing. The Floyd family has called for first-degree murder charges to be posted against Mr. Chauvin.

His claim was corroborated by David Pinney, a co-worker at El Nuevo Rodeo who told CBS News in an interview posted Wednesday that the two men definitely knew each other and had “bumped heads.”

“It has a lot to do with Derek being extremely aggressive within the club with some of the patrons, which was an issue,” Mr. Pinney said.

Republicans voiced support for a national misconduct registry but said more needed to be done to eliminate serial offenders, including the weakening of police unions.

“A lot of the police union activity that we have seen has been to protect bad cops and the police unions in this country,” said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican. “My Democratic colleagues — you know have more friends in those unions than we Republicans do — you are going to have to step up to the plate.”

• Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide