Police in the U.S. need to learn “what it means to treat people with empathy and respect,” said Philonise Floyd, whose brother George was killed last month by a Minneapolis police officer.
“The people elected you to speak for them, to make positive change,” Philonise Floyd told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk,” Floyd wrote in his prepared statement.
Philonise joined police reform advocates and law enforcement officials to testify before lawmakers during a hearing on Wednesday about U.S. policing practices and accountability. The United States needs “a national standard for policing behavior built on transparency and accountability,” Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who represents the Floyd family, said in his opening statement.
Crump urged lawmakers to require officers to wear body cameras, restrict use of force for officers and change legal protections for law enforcement.
Law enforcement officials struck a conciliatory tone about Floyd’s death, but also urged lawmakers to refrain from “defunding the police,” a rallying cry that has emerged from the nationwide demonstrations against police brutality. In his opening statement, Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo said “The call to defund the police … prior to actually addressing our social disparities, is largely a false equivalence.”
Pastor Darrell Scott of Cleveland, a long-time supporter of President Trump, argued “defunding of Police Departments has already happened, and it has proven to be an epic fail.”
Below are the prepared testimonies from witnesses at today’s hearing
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd
Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
Chief Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association
Pastor Darrell Scott, pastor, New Spirit Revival Center
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Paul Butler, the Albert Brick professor in law, Georgetown Law School
Angela Underwood Jacobs
Ben Crump, president and founder, Ben Crump Trial Lawyer for Justice
Ron Davis, legislative committee chair, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
Phillip Goff, co-founder and president, Center for Policing Equity
Marc Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League