George Floyd’s family urges Congress to pass police reform bill
The family of George Floyd met on the anniversary of his death with top legislators in the United States Congress and President Joe Biden to push for passage of police reform legislation stalled by policy disputes.
Handcuffed and lying face down in the street, Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis on May 25 a year ago when one of the officers put the weight of his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
Floyd’s death triggered nationwide protests and violent clashes with police in big US cities, prompting Democrats in Congress to propose police reform legislation named in Floyd’s honour. The protests fuelled a broader racial reckoning in the US that continues to reverberate.
“Today is the day that he set the world in a rage and people in America said ‘We know what’s going on, and enough is enough’,” Floyd’s brother Philonese Floyd said on Tuesday.
“We need to be working together to make sure that people in America do not live in fear,” Philonese said in remarks with top Democratic lawmakers at the US Capitol.
The House of Representatives has twice passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing bill that would implement sweeping federal reforms but which Senate Republicans have opposed. Among the proposed reforms, the Democratic-backed House bill seeks to ban the use of chokeholds like the one that killed Floyd.
Biden told the family “that he doesn’t want to sign a bill that doesn’t have substance and meaning so he is going to be patient, to make surest is the right deal, not a rush bill”, Ben Crump, the family lawyer, said.
The family was scheduled to meet leading US senators to call for a bipartisan compromise on the police reform bill.
“This is a police issue. This is a civil rights issue. We have to look at this as a national issue that we have avoided dealing with for far too long,” Crump told reporters at the White House.
In a statement after the meeting, Biden called on Congress to act.
“The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart,” Biden said. “At our best, the American ideal wins out.”
Senator Cory Booker, who is leading Senate Democrats in negotiations with Republicans on police reform legislation, said on Tuesday the two sides are apart on key issues but he remains optimistic agreement can still be reached.