George Floyd's family calls on Congress to pass police reform, 4 years after his murder

ByAshley Van Sant, CNN CNNWire logo
Saturday, May 25, 2024
ABC7 New York 24/7 Eyewitness News Stream
Stream New York's #1 news - Accuweather - original content 24/7

The family of George Floyd marked the fourth anniversary of his murder by renewing their call for Congress to pass legislation to reform policing in America that is named in his honor.

"Change is needed," Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, said at a news conference Thursday where democratic lawmakers announced their latest effort to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The legislation passed in the then-Democratically controlled House in June 2020. But it stalled in the Senate.

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the bill on Thursday, days before the fourth anniversary of Floyd's murder. It calls for law enforcement to be held "accountable for misconduct in court," and police training and policy reforms.

"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 agreed.

"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.

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

Three other former Minneapolis police officers also faced state and federal charges and were sentenced to prison time for their role in Floyd's murder.

George Floyd Square in Minneapolis became a makeshift memorial for Floyd, who died at the hand of police making an arrest.
George Floyd Square in Minneapolis became a makeshift memorial for Floyd, who died at the hand of police making an arrest.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

Speaking at Thursday's press conference, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis, called on 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 murder sparked a wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the world. Four years later, Floyd's death still feels raw to his family, who were inclined to joined the ranks of Black Americans spurred to action after their loved ones were killed by police.

"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, Jones joined Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who was also killed by police in 2014, to talk about how they've turned their pain into purposeful activism at Harvard University.

Jones said he co-founded, a charity dedicated to empowering people marginalized by society, to bring about change 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.

But he's not optimistic about the fate of the legislation.

"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.

Jones said he and his family will continue to uplift Floyd's legacy. 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."