Philonise Floyd is appearing Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing on policing and law enforcement accountability. It comes after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody, an event that has sparked a national outcry along with sustained protests and civil unrest over the issue of police misconduct and racial injustice, as well as calls for Congress to act.
In his testimony, Floyd’s brother said, “George always made sacrifices for his family. And he made sacrifices for complete strangers. He gave the little that he had to help others. He was our gentle giant. I was reminded of that when I watched the video of his murder. He called all the officers ‘sir.’ He was mild mannered, he didn’t fight back. He listened to all the officers. The men who took his life, who suffocated him for eight minutes and 46 seconds. He still called them ‘sir’ as he begged for his life.”
He added, “I can’t tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch something like that.”
His voice rising, he said, “I’m tired. I’m tired of pain, the pain you feel when you watch something like that. When you watch your big brother who you looked up to for your whole entire life die, die begging for his mom. I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired.”
Floyd’s brother referenced the mass protests unfolding across the United States and urged policing reform and accountability.
“George called for help and he was ignored. Please listen to the call I’m making to you now. To the calls of our family and the calls ringing out the streets across the world,” he said.
“Honor them, honor George, and make the necessary changes to make law enforcement the solution and not the problem. Hold them accountable when they do something wrong, teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect. Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk. George wasn’t hurting anyone that day. He didn’t deserve to die over $20.”
The package — put together by the Congressional Black Caucus, House Judiciary Committee Democrats and Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey — would ban chokeholds, create a National Police Misconduct Registry, incentivize state and local governments to conduct racial bias training for officers, and set restrictions on the transfer of military-grade equipment to local law enforcement entities, among other provisions.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, spoke in support of the legislation during the hearing, saying that it would “take a holistic approach that includes a variety of front-end reforms to change the culture of law enforcement, while also holding bad police officers accountable to separate them from those with a true ethic to protect and serve.”
“The nation demands and deserves meaningful change,” Nadler said, adding, “it is the responsibility and the obligation of the House Judiciary Committee to do everything in our power to help deliver the change for the American people.”
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the committee, said during the hearing that “the American people understand that it’s time for a real discussion, a real debate, real solutions, about police treatment of African-Americans.” He added that Americans also understand that “the vast majority of law enforcement officers are responsible, hard-working, heroic first responders.”
Jordan added that Americans also understand “it is pure insanity to defund the police,” referencing a cry that some activists have embraced, but that top congressional Democrats have not endorsed as they push reforms.
A number of other witnesses are also testifying during Wednesday’s hearing. Witnesses testifying include Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Chief Art Acevedo, the President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the chief of police for the Houston Police Department.
His voice breaking and heavy with emotion, Floyd’s brother Philonise told the committee Tuesday that he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to his brother, adding “I was robbed of that, but I know he’s looking down at us now.”
Addressing George directly, he said, “Look at what you did, big brother, you changed the world. Thank you for everything, for taking care of us on Earth, for taking care of us now. I hope you find mama and you can rest in peace with power. Thank you.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.
CNN’s Lauren Fox, Haley Byrd and Harmeet Kaur contributed to this report.