The brother of George Floyd, the black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, is expected to testify before Congress on Wednesday in a hearing on police practices and accountability, according to reports.
Philonise Floyd is scheduled to speak before the House Judiciary Committee – though it remains unclear if he’ll appear in person on Capitol Hill or virtually due to new social distancing restrictions in place meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, The Hill reported.
His testimony will come after House Democrats plan to unveil new legislation pushing to repeal the so-called “qualified immunity” doctrine on Monday. The legal doctrine was created by the Supreme Court to shield government employees, including police officers, from frivolous lawsuits, but has been decried in recent years as allowing bad actors to escape accountability for violating peoples’ rights.
The death of George Floyd on May 25 sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice over the last two weeks. Many peaceful protests, though, had devolved into riots and looting come nightfall, with police deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, and many officers, overwhelmed by crowds, suffering attacks.
George’s two brothers, Philonise and Terrence Floyd, have addressed crowds in Minneapolis and New York to discuss the need for an end to racial injustice and change in policing black communities.
Speaking in Minneapolis last week at the site where his brother was pinned to the ground, Terrence Floyd urged people not to loot businesses or cause destruction, but rather seek change through voting.
“Let’s stop thinking that our voice don’t matter and vote,” he said. “Not just for the president, but vote for the preliminaries. Vote for everybody. Educate yourself. Don’t wait for somebody else to tell you who’s who. Educate yourself and know who you’re voting for.”
Philonise Floyd told CNN he had spoken with both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the week since George’s death. Philonise said his conversation with Biden lasted between 10 and 15 minutes, while his talk with Trump only two minutes.
“The vice president, I loved his conversation. He talked to me for like 10, 15 minutes. And I was trying to talk his ear off because he was talking to me constantly. Great conversation. But Trump, it lasted probably two minutes,” he told CNN’s Don Lemon. “It was very brief. The conversation was OK with him. I was just respecting him, you know listening to what he had to say. And I understood what he was saying, but it was just a brief conversation.”
In a separate interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, Philonise said his conversation with Trump was “so fast” and that the president “didn’t give me an opportunity to even speak.”
“It was hard. I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept, like, pushing me off, like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about,’” Philonise Floyd said. “And I just told him, ‘I want justice.’ I said that I couldn’t believe that they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight.”
“I asked Vice President Biden – I never had to beg a man before – but I asked him, could he please, please get justice for my brother,” he continued. “I need it. I do not want to see him on a shirt just like the other guys. Nobody deserved that. Black folk don’t deserve that. We’re all dying. Black lives matter.”
Trump confirmed his conversation with the Floyd family without disclosing many details.
“I want to express our nation’s deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd,” Trump said during a White House roundtable, adding “I spoke to members of the family – terrific people.”