WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — Members of Congress held their first debate on police reform measures Wednesday following the death of George Floyd in police custody and nationwide protests demanding change.
Just one day after burying his brother in Houston, Philonise Floyd pleaded for the lives of other black Americans before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington.
“He didn’t deserve to die over $20,” Floyd said. “I am asking you, is that what a black man is worth? Twenty dollars? This is 2020. Enough is enough.”
Floyd told lawmakers deadly force should only be used in the rarest of cases, and officers should be held accountable.
“Make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and not the problem,” he said.
Democrats, like Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, advocated for the sweeping police reform legislation they introduced Monday, including tracking the use of deadly force and encouraging independent prosecutors in these cases.
“To determine if a law enforcement officer may have violated the law in using deadly force or force at all,” Cohen said.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-LA, highlighted the benefits of community investment by using his own experience with the former New Orleans mayor.
“You moved some resources from a constitutional police department that you created to after school funding and things that the community can do better than police,” Richmond said.
“It’s not really about defunding police,” replied Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League. “It’s about funding other things.”
Republicans, like Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, said they oppose cutting police budgets but support reforms that focus on transparency, training and termination.
“Officers like the ones involved in the death of George Floyd are not representative of the vast majority of America’s law enforcement officers,” Johnson said.
While Republicans work with the White House on an alternate police reform bill, Democrats are already moving to change theirs by renaming it in honor of George Floyd.