Live Updates on Protests: George Floyd’s Brother Testifies Before Congress


George Floyd’s brother will testify before Congress today.

A day after George Floyd was laid to rest during an impassioned service calling for sweeping corrections to racial injustice, his brother Philonise Floyd will testify before Congress on Wednesday at a House hearing on police accountability and racial bias in law enforcement.

Mr. Floyd will testify before the House Judiciary Committee, alongside more than half a dozen civil rights experts and activists. The hearing will examine a legislative proposal that is the most expansive federal intervention into law enforcement that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory.

The legislation, put forth by Democrats, comes amid a groundswell of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread protests that have convulsed big cities and small towns alike.

City officials from Houston to San Diego are now banning chokeholds and other neck restraints used by the police, and the mayors of Los Angeles and New York City have pledged to move funds away from police in order to better invest in social services and communities of color.

The shifting public opinions during an election year has sent Republicans scrambling to create their own policy proposals. Senate Republican leaders announced they would create their own legislative push to address racial discrimination and police brutality, to be led by Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Republican senator who is African-American.

The announcements reflect a mounting sense of political urgency to overhaul law enforcement practices and address systemic racism in policing. House Democrats have indicated that they intend to act quickly, with a vote on their legislation planned by the end of the month.

Philonise Floyd is expected to be a key witness at the hearing on Wednesday and will testify that “George’s calls for help were ignored” when he cried out that he could not breathe while pinned underneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes on May 25. He was being arrested over a complaint that he had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

“I am asking you, is that what a black man’s life is worth? Twenty dollars?” Philonise Floyd will testify, according to his prepared remarks. “This is 2020. Enough is enough.”

“Please listen to the call I’m making to you now, to the calls of our family, and to the calls ringing out in the streets across the world,” he testified. “People of all backgrounds, genders and race have come together to demand change. Honor them, honor George, and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution — and not the problem.”

Wednesday’s hearing will also include comments from Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer who represents the family of Mr. Floyd.

House Republicans invited Dan Bongino, the conservative political commentator and former Secret Service agent, and Angela Underwood Jacobs, whose brother, Dave Patrick Underwood, a Federal Protective Services officer, was shot and killed late last month during a night of unrest in Oakland, Calif.

The call for more extensive policy changes and police accountability was a central theme of Mr. Floyd’s funeral in Houston on Tuesday, where families of other black Americans killed by the police were in attendance.

“This was not just a tragedy. It was a crime,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader who delivered the eulogy, calling for accountability in all pillars of society. “Lives like George’s will not matter until somebody pays the cost for taking their lives.”

American public opinion can sometimes seem stubborn. Voters haven’t really changed their views on abortion in 50 years. Donald J. Trump’s approval rating among registered voters has fallen within a five-point range for just about every day of his presidency.

But the Black Lives Matter movement has been an exception from the start.

Public opinion on race and criminal justice issues has been steadily moving left since the first protests ignited over the fatal shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. And since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25, public opinion on race, criminal justice and the Black Lives Matter movement has shifted leftward.

Over the last two weeks, support for Black Lives Matter increased by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years, according to data from Civiqs, an online survey research firm. By a 28-point margin, Civiqs finds that a majority of Americans support the movement, up from a 17-point margin before the most recent wave of protests began.

The survey is not the only one to suggest that recent protests enjoy broad public support. Weekly polling for the Democracy Fund’s U.C.L.A./Nationscape survey shows a significant increase in unfavorable views of the police, and an increase in the belief that African-Americans face a lot of discrimination.

Perhaps most significant, the Civiqs data is not alone in suggesting that an outright majority of Americans agree with the central arguments of Black Lives Matter.

A New Jersey corrections officer was suspended and a FedEx employee was fired on Tuesday after re-enacting the killing of George Floyd on the sidelines of a march protesting racism and police violence.

The march on Monday passed through Franklinville, N.J., south of Philadelphia. It was met by a small group of counterprotesters, including the two men who performed the re-enactment.

“If you don’t comply, that’s what happens,” one man can be heard yelling in a video posted on social media as he presses his knee down on the other man’s neck. A third man yells: “Black lives matter — to no one.”

The re-enactment took place next to a pickup truck covered with an American flag and two large banners that said “TRUMP” and “ALL LIVES MATTER.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Chief Brian Zimmer of the Franklin Township Police Department said that town officials were “appalled and saddened by the revolting actions of certain individuals” and that an investigation had been launched.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Corrections said the corrections officer had been suspended, and a FedEx spokeswoman, Davina Cole, said the “individual involved” was no longer employed by the company.

“FedEx holds its team members to a high standard of personal conduct, and we do not tolerate the kind of appalling and offensive behavior depicted in this video,” Ms. Cole said in a statement, adding, “we stand with those who support justice and equality.”

Plea deal negotiations broke down shortly before a murder charge in the Floyd case, prosecutors say.

The day before Derek Chauvin was charged with murdering George Floyd, negotiations for a plea deal broke down, according to the Hennepin County attorney’s office.

Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before Mr. Floyd’s death, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on May 29. He was later charged with the upgraded offense of second-degree murder.

The state’s initial charges were announced one day after Erica MacDonald, the U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, began a delayed news conference by telling reporters: “We thought we would have another development that I could tell you about. Unfortunately, we don’t at this point.”

Ms. MacDonald then pledged a “robust and meticulous investigation” into Mr. Floyd’s death, without announcing charges or revealing what potential development she was referring to.

“If you watch the video and what she said, you could pretty easily figure out exactly what happened,” Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office, said in an interview on Tuesday night. “They were negotiating in there, and yes it fell apart.”

Mr. Laszewski said the discussions included Ms. MacDonald and Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, who handled the case before the governor appointed Keith Ellison, the state attorney general, to take over. The spokesman declined to describe the terms of a potential deal, say how long the negotiations took place or why they ended.

Neither Mr. Chauvin’s current or former lawyers immediately responded to requests for comment about the negotiations, which were earlier reported by Fox 9 in Minneapolis.

Members of Mr. Floyd’s family have said they want Mr. Chauvin to be charged with first-degree murder. He is being held in a maximum-security prison on bail of up to $1.25 million.

Republicans are scrambling to create a police overhaul proposal.

Congressional Republicans, caught flat-footed by an election-year groundswell of public support for overhauling policing in America to address systemic racism, are struggling to coalesce around a legislative response.

Having long fashioned themselves as the party of law and order, Republicans have been startled by the speed and extent to which public opinion has shifted under their feet in recent days after the killings of unarmed black Americans by the police and the protests that have followed. The abrupt turn has placed them on the defensive.

Adding to their challenge, President Trump has offered only an incendiary response, repeatedly invoking “law and order,” calling for military and police crackdowns on protesters, promoting conspiracy theories, and returning time and again to the false claim that Democrats agitating for change are simply bent on defunding police departments.

On Tuesday, Republicans on Capitol Hill rushed to distance themselves from that approach, publicly making clear that they would lay out their own legislation and refraining from attacking a sweeping Democratic bill unveiled this week aimed at combating racial bias and excessive use of force by the police.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, pressed on whether his party would embrace such steps, said that Republicans had yet to fashion their response.

“We are still wrestling with America’s original sin,” Mr. McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We try to get better, but every now and then, it is perfectly clear we are a long way from the finish line. And I think the best way for Senate Republicans to go forward on this is to listen to one of our own who has had these experiences.”

He said that he had tasked the Republicans’ lone black member, Tim Scott of South Carolina, to lead a group of senators to draft a conservative response that they could get behind. In the House, a group of Republicans on the Judiciary Committee — led by Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio — was looking at its own plans to reimagine police training, increase accountability for officers who use improper force or violate the rights of civilians, and collect new data to track the behavior by departments across the country.

When Safa Abdulkadir, a first-year medical student at the University of Minnesota, attended a protest in Minneapolis in response to the killing of George Floyd, she had no intention of putting her medical knowledge to use. It was a day after Mr. Floyd was killed, and although Ms. Abdulkadir was attending as a protester, she made a point of wearing her white lab coat, a common symbol of medical professionals and students.

Before long, she saw a young woman on the ground crying, a small crowd around her. The woman told her that she had been shot in the breast with a rubber bullet. When Ms. Abdulkadir approached the group, they asked if she was a doctor, and she explained that she was a medical student. Someone asked her to look at the young woman’s wound, and bystanders formed a barrier around them so that Ms. Abdulkadir could do so. She discovered some bruising but no severe trauma; she then gave the woman a bandage and helped find her a cold compress.

“After that day, I decided to just continue going to the protests with the purpose of actually helping people who were hurt,” Ms. Abdulkadir said.

She is just one of the many people in cities and towns across the country providing medical care during the protests. These volunteers often refer to themselves as street medics, and have a history that stretches back to the civil rights movement. The term refers to a loose, informal group of people with varying degrees of medical experience who attend demonstrations specifically to provide medical care that participants may need.

The Paramount Network confirmed on Tuesday that it had removed the reality show “Cops” from its schedule, as protests nationwide call for police reform. Late last month, the network had temporarily cut the show from its schedule.

“‘Cops’ is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a spokeswoman for the network said.

Spike TV, the predecessor to the Paramount Network, picked up “Cops” in 2013 after the show was canceled by Fox, its network home for 25 years. The show’s first episode featured a raid on a Florida crack house, and the 33rd season was expected to premiere on Paramount on June 15.

“These cop reality shows that glorify police but will never show the deep level of police violence are not reality, they are P.R. arms for law enforcement,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change. “Law enforcement doesn’t need P.R. They need accountability in this country.”

Also on Tuesday, HBO Max removed from its catalog “Gone With the Wind,” the 1939 movie long considered a triumph of American cinema but one that romanticizes the Civil War-era South while glossing over its racial sins.

The streaming service pledged to eventually bring the film back “with a discussion of its historical context” while denouncing its racial missteps, a spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.

Set on a plantation and in Atlanta, the film won multiple Academy Awards, including best picture, and remains among the most celebrated movies in cinematic history. But its rose-tinted depiction of the antebellum South and its blindness to the horrors of slavery have long been criticized, and that scrutiny was renewed this week as protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd continued to pull the United States into a wide-ranging conversation about race.

“‘Gone With the Wind’ is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement. “These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.”

Reporting was contributed by Jason M. Bailey, Nate Cohn, Catie Edmonson, Nicholas Fandos, Thomas Fuller, Emma Grillo, Sarah Mervosh, Kevin Quealy, Ed Shanahan, Nicole Sperling, Tracey Tully and Daniel Victor.



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