The brother of George Floyd, an African American man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police, called on U.S. lawmakers Wednesday during a congressional hearing on national police reform to approve legislation that restricts the use of force by police against citizens.
Philonise Floyd's plea was made before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of his brother. George Floyd died May 25 after officer Derek Chauvin held a knee to his neck for nearly 9 minutes as Floyd called out for his mother and pleaded that he could not breathe.
Viral video of the incident sparked nationwide protests urging reforms. Philonise Floyd spoke during a hearing on national police reform.
"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 entire life, die. Die begging for your mom," Floyd said. "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 to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain."
The committee also heard from the sister of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, who was fatally shot during protests and violence that erupted in Oakland, California, after George Floyd's death. Angela Underwood Jacobs told the committee that solutions to police brutality and racial injustice must be achieved through peaceful means.
"When innocent people are harmed in the name of justice … we all lose," Jacobs said. "There is a path to achieving what we desire. It is the same path we started on during the civil rights movement."
She said America "must find lawful, peaceful solutions that benefit everyone."
Members of the U.S. Congress are examining national police reform proposals, while local and state officials announce more steps to change funding and authorizations for the use of force in their police departments.
Other witnesses include Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and current president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
House Democrats have proposed a package of reforms that includes bans on racial profiling and chokeholds, making it easier to sue officers in civil court and establishing a national database tracking officer misconduct. A vote is planned this month.
Republican leaders in the Senate have tasked Senator Tim Scott with leading the creation of their own package of proposals, an effort White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters Tuesday he hopes will come "sooner than later."
Scott said Tuesday he held a productive discussion with colleagues on the plan and they would be releasing a draft "in the near future."
"I am hopeful that this legislation will bring much needed solutions," said Scott, the Senate's only black Republican.
Also Wednesday, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and eight other Republican senators introduced a resolution calling for justice for Floyd and rejecting recent demands to defund police departments.
"We know that violent crime disproportionally affects low-income communities, and that law enforcement plays a critical role in protecting life and preserving a free and functioning society," Cruz said. "We also know that law enforcement has an important responsibility in upholding our criminal justice system. Though our nation has taken many troubled turns on our continuing march towards justice, defunding and abolishing police departments will undoubtedly take us backwards in that endeavor."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who heads the chamber's Judiciary Committee, has set a hearing on police use of force for next week.
With the two parties each controlling one of the chambers, and President Donald Trump repeatedly stressing the need for "law and order" amid the protests, it is unlikely the sides will agree on all of their proposals, but there is some common ground, including the misconduct database.
Reforms across US
Local bans on chokeholds have been among the steps already taken by city and state leaders in places such as California; Denver, Colorado; and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Floyd died. The latest move came from the police department in Phoenix, Arizona, which announced the immediate ban on the technique on Tuesday.
In Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler said his package of reforms includes halting the use of patrol officers on public transit and moving $7 million from the city's police budget to programs for communities of color. Other cities have pledged similar funding shifts, including New York and Los Angeles, heeding what has become one of the major initiatives promoted by protesters.
New York state lawmakers also voted Tuesday to repeal a decades-old law that made the disciplinary records and misconduct complaints against officers secret. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign it.
Floyd was entombed Tuesday in Pearland, Texas, after a funeral attended by hundreds of family members, friends and prominent figures in Houston.
Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy, saying Floyd touched people all over the country and in other parts of the world, who have also joined in protest, "marching with your name."
"People are walking out in the streets, not even following social distance because you've touched the world. And as we lay you to rest today, the movement won't rest until we get justice. Until we have one standard of justice. Your family is gonna miss you, George. But your nation is going to always remember your name because your neck was one that represented all of us. And how you suffered represented our stuff," Sharpton said.
Among those in attendance were the parents of Eric Garner, Botham Jean and Michael Brown, three victims of earlier police violence whose deaths brought calls for reforms.
"Until we know the price for black life is the same as the price for white life, we're going to keep coming back to these situations over and over again," Sharpton told those assembled at The Fountain of Praise Church.
Hundreds of people gathered along the funeral procession route to pay their final respects to Floyd, and to express their grief and their frustration at the history of police violence against African Americans and the lack of action to eliminate it.
"We've been kneeling. Nothing happened. We've been peacefully protesting. Nothing happened," Xavier Bradley told VOA. "Only until something gets destroyed they'll listen. Now we've got their ear, hopefully we can put it to good use."
Andrew King contributed to this report.