A brother of George Floyd has taken his grief to the US capital with an impassioned plea to Congress not to let his brother die in vain, lamenting he “didn't deserve to die over $20”.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held the first congressional hearing on Wednesday (local time) to examine issues underlying civil unrest – racial injustice and police brutality – that erupted following George Floyd's May 25 death after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The Democratic-led House is moving forward with sweeping reform legislation while Senate Republicans craft a rival plan.
Mr Floyd, a Houston native who had worked security at nightclubs, was unarmed when taken into custody outside a corner market where an employee had reported a man matching his description tried to pay for cigarettes with a counterfeit bill.
"George wasn't hurting anyone that day. He didn't deserve to die over $20. I'm asking you, is that what a black man's worth? $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough," 42-year-old Philonise Floyd – from Missouri City, Texas, near Houston – told the lawmakers.
"It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain."
Philonise buried his brother on Tuesday and became emotional at the witness table while describing how they had not been able to say goodbye.
"I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain," he testified.
"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 on the streets of all the world."
It was not clear whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to overcome partisan differences to pass legislation President Donald Trump would be willing to sign.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News Mr Trump could take policy action on race and policing through an executive order, but did not provide details.
Officer Derek Chauvin, who was fired after the incident, has been charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Mr Floyd and Chauvin both worked as security personnel at the same nightclub.
Philonise said Chauvin knew his brother and killed him "just because he didn't like him", adding "it has to have something to do with racism".
"So, for him to do something like that, it had to be premeditated and he wanted to do that," he added.
The emotionally-charged hearing had lawmakers and witnesses, including several civil rights advocates, expressing sorrow over Mr Floyd's death, the latest in a long string of killings of African-American men and women by police that have sparked anger on America's streets and fresh calls for reforms
Philonise also described the anguish of watching a viral video of the moments before his older brother’s death.
"I'm here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired," he said, wiping his forehead and holding back tears.
"I can't tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch... your big brother, who you looked up to your whole entire life, die — die begging for his mom.”
Video of the incident went viral, and protests — some violent, most peaceful — erupted from coast to coast in some of the most serious US civil unrest in generations.
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