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George Floyd’s Family Urges Congress To Enact Police Reform Four Years After His Death

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The family of George Floyd commemorated the fourth anniversary of his death by renewing their plea for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

“Change is needed,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, at a news conference Thursday, where Democratic lawmakers announced their latest push for the legislation.

The bill, which passed the House in June 2020 when it was under Democratic control, stalled in the Senate.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the bill on Thursday, just days before the anniversary of Floyd’s death. The proposed legislation aims to hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court and to implement reforms in police training and policies.

“We have the opportunity to enact bold, comprehensive reform to policing practices, to correct and prevent unnecessary deaths. Congress must pass the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicingAct of 2024,” Rep. Jackson Lee wrote in a Facebook post.

Philonise Floyd echoed the call for these reforms.

“In their mind they (police) are looking at you as a target just because you’re somebody of color,” he said. “At the end of the day, if they can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, then they can make federal laws to protect people of color.”

George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed on May 25, 2020, while in police custody. Derek Chauvin, a White police officer, was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck and back for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for help and said he couldn’t breathe.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in a state trial the following year and sentenced to over 22 years in prison. He later pleaded guilty in federal court to depriving Floyd of his civil rights.

Three other former Minneapolis police officers also faced state and federal charges and received prison sentences for their roles in Floyd’s death.

During Thursday’s press conference, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis, urged her fellow lawmakers to “think of the lives that could have been spared if we had the courage to act.”

“We need a clear national standard to uphold the promise of equal protection under the law,” she said.

George Floyd’s death sparked global protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Four years later, his family still feels the raw pain of his loss and continues to join other Black Americans in advocating for change after losing loved ones to police violence.

“I promised myself as I’m watching that video (of his death) that I got to do something. And I have not stopped doing something,” Floyd’s uncle Selwyn Jones told CNN.

This spring, Floyd’s family, including Jones, participated with Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, another unarmed Black man killed by police in 2014, in a discussion at Harvard University about turning their pain into purposeful activism.

Jones mentioned he co-founded Hope929.org, a charity aimed at empowering marginalized individuals, in honor of his nephew.

“What I can do is I can take the atrocity that he was dealt that day and make a difference,” he said.

Despite his efforts, Jones expressed skepticism about the bill’s prospects but vowed that the family would continue to uphold Floyd’s legacy.

“I’m frustrated because I don’t think it’ll ever get passed. And if it does, it has to be so watered down, but we were promised that that bill would pass,” he said.

He plans to attend a celebration in Floyd’s honor this weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“It’s going to be how it used to be,” Jones said. “Let’s all sit around and eat, drink, rejoice and care about each other.”

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