Policeman Accused Of Murdering George Floyd To Appear In Court

In this file handout photo provided by the Hennepin County Jail and received by AFP on May 31, 2020 shows Derek Chauvin booking photos face and profile. Chauvin was filmed on May 25 pressing his knee on handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he died, appeared by video from Minnesota state prison to face charges of one count of second degree murder, one count of third degree murder, and one count of manslaughter. PHOTO: Handout / Hennepin County Jail / AFP

 

The US police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year-old African-American man whose death sparked nationwide protests, was due to appear in court in person for the first time on Friday.

Derek Chauvin, who was filmed on May 25 pressing his knee on handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he passed out on a street in Minneapolis, faces one count of second-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder, and one count of second-degree manslaughter.

Three other Minneapolis officers who were with Chauvin when Floyd was arrested have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four were fired the day after Floyd’s death.

Prosecutors say Floyd’s death was “vicious, brutal, and dehumanising.” He had been detained for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery.

As Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, two other officers pinned down Floyd’s back and legs, and the fourth prevented bystanders from intervening to save his life.

In his first live appearance in a courtroom, Chauvin’s lawyers are expected to argue that Floyd was on drugs at the time and died of a fentanyl overdose.

Prosecutors want to try all four together, saying the worked in concert, and that a joint trial would be more efficient and would save Floyd’s family anguish.

Defense attorneys want to have the four tried separately and also are asking to change the venue for the trial.

Outside the Family Justice Center in downtown Minneapolis early Friday, several dozen protestors chanted “George Floyd!” and carried placards and a large flag that read “Black Lives Matter.”

AFP

US Prosecutors Seek Tough Sentences For George Floyd Cops

These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP
These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP

 

Prosecutors are seeking stiffer-than-usual sentences for four former US police officers charged over the killing of George Floyd, arguing that they showed “particular cruelty” to the handcuffed African American.

The 46-year-old resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota died in May after being pinned to the pavement under the knee of white officer Derek Chauvin as Floyd gasped that he could not breathe.

The case is proceeding amid renewed fury over police violence against African Americans, galvanized by the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin this week.

Court papers filed Friday in the Floyd case indicate that the Minnesota attorney general’s office will argue there were a number of aggravating factors.

These include evidence that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as bystanders, including multiple children, pleaded for his life and then watched him die.

“George Floyd, the victim, was particularly vulnerable because officers had already handcuffed him behind his back and then placed him chest down on the pavement, and Mr. Floyd clearly and repeatedly told the officers he could not breathe,” the court documents state.

Chauvin inflicted “particular cruelty,” as well as “gratuitous pain” as he abused his position of authority, prosecutors allege.

“Despite Mr. Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe and was going to die, as well as the pleas of eyewitnesses to get off Mr. Floyd and help him, (the) defendant and his co-defendants continued to restrain Mr. Floyd,” the papers say.

Three or more suspects “actively participated” in the killing, prosecutors noted, saying this would justify longer sentences.

Groundswell of outrage

The charges against Chauvin include unintentional second-degree murder, while three ex-colleagues — J. Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The shockingly public nature of Floyd’s death — which bystanders filmed and then posted on social media — sparked an enormous mobilization nationwide, as protesters took to the streets to denounce racism and police brutality.

A man screams with emotion as he sees a policeman take a knee while hundreds protest the death of George Floyd next to the White House on May 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

The groundswell of outrage reached beyond American borders, prompting huge demonstrations around the world against the mistreatment of ethnic minorities and the rewriting of colonial history.

The face of Floyd, a father-of-three whose last job was as a security guard, has become a symbol brandished in anti-racist marches everywhere.

He was remembered at a massive demonstration in Washington on Friday that highlighted the case of 29-year-old Blake, who was gravely wounded when a policeman fired multiple shots at him as he tried to get into his car on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Conviction in Minnesota for second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder usually carries sentences of up to 12 and a half years.

The court documents did not say how much extra time prosecutors will request if the men are convicted, but the maximum for second-degree murder is 40 years in prison.

A defense attorney for ex-officer Kueng sought a dismissal Thursday, attributing the death to health problems and fentanyl in Floyd’s system.

Attorney Thomas Plunkett will file evidence that Floyd swallowed drugs during a May 6, 2019, arrest for selling drugs and was convicted of a 2007 armed drug robbery in Texas.

 

AFP

George Floyd Said Officers Would ‘Kill’ Him In New Recording Transcript

These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP
These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP

 

 

George Floyd said he couldn’t breathe more than 20 times, called out for his children and late mother and said officers would “kill” him before he died in Minneapolis police custody, new evidence showed.

Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death has unleashed a massive wave of protests against systemic racism and police brutality in the United States and inspired demos across the world.

Video of his death went viral and showed Floyd shouting “I can’t breathe” and calling for his mother as he suffocated.

But transcripts of the police officers’ body camera footage, filed Tuesday in Minnesota state court by Thomas Lane, one of the officers involved in Floyd’s death, has revealed new details about his final moments.

When the officers first arrested him, Floyd begged them not to put him in the police car, telling them he was claustrophobic and in physical distress.

As they tried to force him into the car, Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe and was “going to die in here.”

Later, according to the transcript, he said, “Momma, I love you. Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.” He called for his mother and children several more times.

Throughout his arrest, Floyd said “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. The officers can be heard telling him to “relax,” and that he was doing “fine” and “talking fine.”

At one point, as Floyd insisted they were going to kill him, officer Derek Chauvin shouted, “Then stop talking, stop yelling, it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”

– ‘I can’t breathe’ –
According to the transcript, Floyd’s last words were, “They’re going to kill me. They’re going to kill me. I can’t breathe.”

The transcript was submitted Tuesday by Lane to have the charges that he aided and abetted in Floyd’s murder thrown out by a judge.

He and the other three officers involved — Chauvin, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng — were all fired from the Minneapolis police force one day after Floyd’s death and charged in his murder. They each face up to 40 years behind bars.

Chauvin, who knelt on the handcuffed 46-year-old’s neck, faces second and third-degree murder charges.

Thao and Kueng, like Lane, have been charged with aiding and abetting a murder.

The bystander video of Floyd’s death stunned and horrified Americans, igniting protests and riots in cities across the country and sparking a national debate on racism and police violence.

Floyd was detained for the minor charge of attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill, and while in handcuffs, two of the officers held him down on the street while Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck and the fourth officer stood watch.

 

-AFP

Death Of Black Teen In US Juvenile Facility Sparks Outrage

People raise their fists during a rally as part of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, on Place de la Republique in Paris on June 13, 2020. – A wave of global protests in the wake of US George Floyd’s fatal arrest magnified attention on the 2016 death in French police custody of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black man, and renewed controversy over claims of racism and brutality within the force. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

A viral video showing a black teen losing consciousness while being choked by staff members of a juvenile delinquency center sparked outrage Wednesday, as anti-racism protests continue to rage across the United States.

Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died May 1, two days after being pinned to the ground by staff at Lakeside Academy — a residential treatment for young adults in Kalamazoo, Michigan — for having thrown a sandwich at another boy in the cafeteria.

In the video, captured by surveillance cameras, Fredericks throws the sandwich and then is thrown to the ground by several men, who use their weight to subdue him.

 

Fredericks throws the sandwich and then is thrown to the ground by several men.
Fredericks throws the sandwich and then is thrown to the ground by several men.

 

After 10 minutes, Fredericks appears unconscious. Staff members attempted CPR before calling for medical help.

His death recalls that of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25 during an arrest that was filmed and spread on social media.

Floyd’s death has unleashed a massive wave of anger and protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

The “horrific video” of Fredericks’s death reveals a “culture of fear and abuse” at Lakeside Academy, where “suffocation is a regular practice… as a form of discipline,” the lawyer for Fredericks’s family, Geoffrey Fieger, said Tuesday while making the video public.

Fredericks “was executed on April 29 for the crime of throwing a sandwich,” Fieger said. The seven staff members who pinned him down “deprived him of oxygen and his brain suffered irreversible damage.”

Two of instructors and one nurse were charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.

In June, Fieger filed civil lawsuits against the involved staff members and the private company that runs the Lakeside facility, Sequel Youth and Family Services, which has a contract with the state of Michigan.

“Cornelius’s scream of ‘I can’t breathe’ was not enough to get the staff members to stop the excessive restraint,” Fieger wrote in the lawsuit.

“The excessive use of restraints and the lack of concern for Cornelius’s life draw an eerily similar comparison to that of George Floyd’s death,” he added in the document.

Fieger said Tuesday that the operating company had proposed an out-of-court settlement of less than $1 million in compensation to Fredericks’s family.

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer in June denounced Fredericks’s “senseless” and “intolerable” death, and announced that she was stopping all contracts with Sequel Youth and Family Services in the state.

Virus, Protests, Trump’s Angry Words Darken US July 4th Weekend

Protesters raise their fists during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. - Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)
Protesters raise their fists during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. – Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

 

The United States marked its Independence Day on Saturday in a somber mood, as a record surge in coronavirus cases, anti-racism protests and an angry speech from President Donald Trump have cast a shadow over what normally are festive celebrations.

Popular beaches on both coasts — normally packed on July 4th — were closed as California and Florida suffer alarming surges in COVID-19 infections.

“You should assume everyone around you is infectious,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned.

Across the country, Main Street parades have been canceled, backyard barbecues scaled down, and family reunions put off amid worries about spreading the virus on a day when Americans typically celebrate their 1776 declaration of independence from Britain.

Florida said Saturday it had marked a new daily high in confirmed virus cases at 11,458 — far more than any other state — and Miami Beach imposed a curfew and made mask-wearing mandatory in public. Yet some Florida beaches remained open.

The US virus death toll is fast approaching 130,000, roughly one-quarter the world’s total.

 

A US flag flies as fireworks explode above the Mount Rushmore National Monument during an Independence Day event attended by the US president in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

Fireworks canceled

Fireworks displays are typically a high point of the holiday, but an estimated 80 percent of the events, including in cities like Indianapolis, Atlanta and Nashville, have been canceled this year.

Some locales are urging people to watch fireworks from their cars.

But other Americans, weary of lockdowns or simply defiant, carry on as if the deadly pandemic were a thing of the past.

Continuing a year of confusingly mixed signals, local officials in Washington have discouraged residents from massing on the National Mall for the capital’s fireworks display.

 

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Trump, fresh from his appearance Friday before the monumental sculpture of four presidents on Mount Rushmore, plans to take in Saturday’s “Salute to America” in Washington, complete with military music and flyovers, from a White House balcony.

He and his wife, Melania, released a video message wishing Americans “a very, very happy Fourth of July.”

Trump was optimistic on virus trends that have health officials deeply concerned. “We got hit with this terrible plague from China,” he said, “and now we are getting close to fighting our way out of it.”

Trump’s address at the Washington festivities will pay tribute to health care workers, police and the military, White House spokesman Judd Deere told AFP.

Social distancing would be observed, he added — in contrast to the practice at Mount Rushmore.

 

‘Violent mayhem’

While presidents’ July 4th speeches traditionally are uplifting affairs that emphasize patriotism and national unity, Trump in South Dakota angrily lashed out at protests that have erupted since unarmed African American George Floyd was killed by police.

Facing a tough re-election battle in November and eager to mobilize his political base, Trump denounced “violent mayhem” on US streets, though most demonstrations have been peaceful, and accused protesters of waging “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”

Trump’s presumptive opponent in the fall, Democrat Joe Biden, struck a sharply different tone, tweeting Saturday: “Our nation was founded on a simple idea: We’re all created equal. We’ve never lived up to it — but we’ve never stopped trying. This Independence Day, let’s not just celebrate those words, let’s commit to finally fulfill them.”

 

A woman sits near her umbrella during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. - Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)
A woman sits near her umbrella during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. – Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

Protests have continued in many US cities since Floyd’s killing in May, and more than a score of demonstrations were taking place Saturday in Washington, including a George Floyd Memorial March and a Black Lives Matter protest.

All the demonstrations, in theory, should be over before the night’s celebration on the Mall, set to start at 6:40pm (22H40 GMT).

Health officials have been bracing for a new spike in virus cases after this weekend.

Some link the latest flareup to the delayed result of widespread celebrations during the Memorial Day holiday in late May, and to the reopening of some states’ economies starting around that time.

And they see this weekend as a potential tipping point — in the worst case, a replay of the post-Memorial Day resurgence.

 

 

-AFP

George Floyd’s Brother Urges UN To Probe Police Killings Of Black Americans

George Floyd’s brother Philonise is seen on a TV screen during his speech at the opening of an urgent debate on “systemic racism” in the United States and beyond at the Human Rights Council on June 17, 2020 in Geneva. – African countries are pushing for the Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to investigate racism and police civil liberties violations against people of African descent in the United States. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

The brother of George Floyd called on the United Nations on Wednesday to set up an independent commission to investigate the killings of African Americans by police.
“I am my brother’s keeper,” said Philonise Floyd, whose brother was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.
“That could have been me,” Floyd told an urgent debate on racism and police brutality called at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“I’m asking you to help me,” he said. “I hope that you will consider establishing an independent commission of inquiry to investigate police killings of black people in America and the violence against peaceful protesters.”
-AFP

French Protesters Clash With Police At Anti-Racism Rallies

French riot police clash with protesters during a rally as part of the 'Black Lives Matter' worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, on Place de la Republique in Paris on June 13, 2020.  Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
French riot police clash with protesters during a rally as part of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, on Place de la Republique in Paris on June 13, 2020. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Police clashed with demonstrators in Paris and Lyon Saturday, firing tear gas and water cannons as thousands turned out across France for the latest wave of protests against racism and police violence.

Officers prevented protesters trying to launch a march through the streets of the capital, at the end of a three-hour rally. They fired tear gas after some demonstrators pelted them with projectiles.

This was the latest in a series of French demonstrations following the death last month of black American George Floyd at the hands of police officers in the United States.

But the protesters were also highlighting what critics say is the problem of racism and violence in the French police.

Several thousand people congregated at the Place de la Republique in Paris, answering a call from a pressure group seeking justice in the case of Adama Traore, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016.

Traore’s sister Assa Traore called on those attending the rally to “denounce the denial of justice, denounce social, racial, police violence”, renewing a call for an investigation into her brother’s death.

“The death of George Floyd — this African-American killed on May 25 in Minneapolis by a white policeman — is a direct echo of my brother’s death. It’s the same thing in France, our brothers are dying,” she said.

Clashes in Lyon

One demonstrator, 19-year-old Djibril Sacko expressed his frustration.

“I came to demonstrate for justice (and) we have been gassed several times then they surrounded us and things got out of hand given we couldn’t leave,” he said.

One demonstrator, 27-year-old student Elisa, said she did not routinely favour an “anti-cop discourse” but added it was “clear there is a problem of racism and fear of the police today”.

In the southeast city of Lyon, police used water cannons and tear gas at the end of a demonstration attended by about 2,000 people.

In the Mediterranean city of Marseille, police said 2,200 people demonstrated. Organisers of the rally put the figure at between 4,000-5,000.

Other rallies took place in cities from Montpellier in the south to Nantes and Bordeaux in the west.

Amnesty appeal

The rallies came at the end of week when France’s police watchdog said it had received almost 1,500 complaints against officers last year — half of them for alleged violence.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday noted the need not to “lose the youth”, as feelings run ever higher in the wake of the Floyd killing.

On Wednesday he described racism as “an illness which touches all society”.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has promised “zero tolerance” of racism in law enforcement, saying it is clear some officers “have failed in their Republican duty”.

He cited several instances of racist and discriminatory remarks that have recently come to light.

Amnesty International meanwhile appealed for “a systemic reform of police practices” in France. “The seriousness of the situation requires a global response from the authorities,” the group said in a statement.

Government spokesman Sibeth Ndiaye suggested in an interview with Saturday’s Le Monde that there should be “constructive debate” regarding race, with efforts redoubled against racial discriminations”.

Saturday’s demonstrations followed two days of protests by police officers themselves, angry at the accusations being laid against them, and what they say is a lack of government support.

Frederic Lagache of the police union Alliance said he hoped Macron would receive a delegation, as many officers felt their “honour had been injured” over the widespread criticism of the force.

Premier League Approves Kneeling Protests, ‘Black Lives Matter’ On Shirts

AC Milan’s Danish defender Simon Kjaer, wearing a jersey that reads “Black Lives Matter” warms up prior to the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Juventus vs AC Milan on June 12, 2020 at the Allianz stadium in Turin. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

The Premier League will support players taking a knee before or during matches in protest against racial discrimination, while “Black Lives Matter” will replace player names on the back of shirts for the first 12 games of the league’s restart next week.

“The League supports the players’ wish to have their names replaced by Black Lives Matter on the back of their shirts for the first 12 matches of the restarted 2019/20 season,” the Premier League said in a statement on Friday.

“In addition, the League will support players who ‘take a knee’ before or during matches.”

Protests have erupted across the globe since the killing of African-American George Floyd in the United States on May 25 when a police officer, who has been charged with second-degree murder, knelt on his neck for several minutes.

A statement by players from all 20 Premier League clubs said: “We, the players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their colour or creed.

“This symbol is a sign of unity from all Players, all staff, all clubs, all match officials and the Premier League #blacklivesmatter #playerstogether.”

Several matches in Germany’s Bundesliga have been preceded by both teams taking a knee prior to kick-off in recent weeks.

England international Jadon Sancho was among the first players to protest by showing a t-shirt branded “Justice for George Floyd” during Borussia Dortmund’s rout of Paderborn last month.

The Premier League will return with two matches on June 17 as Manchester City host Arsenal and Sheffield United travel to Aston Villa.

A full round of 10 fixtures will then take place between June 19 and 22 with Black Lives Matter on the back of players’ shirts.

For the remaining 80 matches of the campaign, a Black Lives Matter logo will feature on shirts along with a badge thanking Britain’s National Health Service for their work during the coronavirus crisis.

AFP

PHOTOS: NCAC Holds Memorial For George Floyd

 

The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in collaboration with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission on Wednesday held a Memorial service in honour of George Floyd who was killed recently by an American Police in the United States.

Addressing the media in Abuja, NACA Director-General, Segun Runsewe said: “As Africans, our culture has great respect for the sanity of the human life.”

Runsewe who condemned Floyd’s death said “Nigeria believes in the American vision that all men are created equal and are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights among which are right to life hence the need for justice for late George Floyd.”

While joining other Nigerians to ask for justice for the late African-American, the NCAC boss called for the spirit of love among countries of the world to further strengthen global peace and development.

He also commiserated with George’s family and Nigeria over the ugly incident, extending his condolences to Nigerians killed by Boko Haram, kidnappers, rapists and other violent crimes in the country.

In attendance was also the Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa who advised Africans to develop a keen interest in developing their continent instead of running abroad.

See photos below: 

 

‘Stop The Pain’: George Floyd’s Brother Tells US Lawmakers

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, wipes away his tears as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about policing practices and law enforcement accountability prompted by the death of George Floyd while in police custody, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 10, 2020. Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP

 

 

The brother of George Floyd, whose killing by police sparked worldwide protests against racism, made an emotional plea on Wednesday to the US Congress to “stop the pain” and pass reforms that make officers accountable for brutality.

One day after burying his brother in Houston, Philonise Floyd appeared in person before a House hearing, where he described the anguish of watching a viral video of George’s death and demanded lawmakers act to fix law enforcement problems including systemic racism.

“I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain,” the younger Floyd said.

“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,” he said.

“He didn’t deserve to die over $20,” he said, referring to his brother’s alleged effort to use a counterfeit bill before his arrest.

“I’m asking you: is that what a black man is worth, $20?” Floyd asked. “This is 2020. Enough is enough.”

Floyd, who wore an anti-virus mask bearing an image of his brother, wiped his forehead and fought back tears as he implored lawmakers to “listen to the call” he and protesters were making for justice.

“Maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death will not be in vain.”

After the hearing, fist raised, he joined demonstrators on the streets outside the White House demanding justice and police reforms.

“There is systemic racism not just in our law enforcement but also in housing, education, and everything we do,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted after the hearing.

“We have to do the hard work to end it.”

– ‘The pain of America’ –

George Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, when a white officer, who has since been charged with murder, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests — some violent, most peaceful — erupted nationwide in some of the most serious US civil unrest in generations.

Lawmakers united in expressions of sorrow and support for Floyd, with longtime House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner telling him: “The pain of your brother I think has become the pain of America.”

The five-hour-plus hearing came after congressional Democrats unveiled a package of reforms this week aimed at ending police brutality.

The legislation would ban chokeholds, make it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, require anti-racism training, and bar fired personnel from working in police forces in other districts.

It would also restrict police departments’ use of qualified immunity, which shields officers from being held personally responsible for wrongdoing.

“If there is no accountability,” Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump said, police brutality and other abuse “will keep happening.”

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said that while most cops were decent and law-abiding, there was a “systemic problem” in law enforcement that requires comprehensive solutions.

“The nation demands and deserves a meaningful change,” Nadler said.

– Killers ‘will face justice’ –

With lawmakers agreeing on the need for a genuine discussion about police treatment of African Americans, several Republicans including Jim Jordan expressed their desire to enact reforms.

“It’s as wrong as wrong can be,” Jordan told Philonise Floyd about George’s death, “and your brother’s killers will face justice.”

Lawmakers heard too from the sister of a security officer who recently died in Oakland, California, in a shooting blamed on protesters.

“We will never solve generational, systemic injustice with looting, burning, destruction of property and killing in the name of justice,” said Angela Underwood Jacobs, who extended her condolences to Floyd’s brother.

She also described as “ridiculous” calls by leftist activists to “defund the police,” an effort that has been attacked by President Donald Trump and Republicans as dangerous and misguided.

Tensions rose during an exchange between House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries and Dan Bongino, a conservative radio host and former Secret Service officer.

Jeffries noted how several white accused mass murderers were arrested without incident while many unarmed black Americans have been killed in police encounters.

“I don’t know why you’re making a racial thing of it,” Bongino said.

“Because black lives matter, sir,” Jeffries said, shooting Bongino a withering look.

“Yeah, all lives matter, sir,” Bongino countered.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was launching reforms to provide “a new paradigm of peacekeeping” for the community.

The move is an apparent bid to appease the city council which recently pledged to dismantle the police force.

AFP

George Floyd’s Brother Asks US Congress To Act On Police Reform

Protesters demonstrate on June 1, 2020 in Amsterdam, to protest against the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the USA. Sem VAN DER WAL / AFP / ANP
Protesters demonstrate on June 1, 2020 in Amsterdam, to protest against the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the USA. Sem VAN DER WAL / AFP / ANP

 

The brother of George Floyd, whose killing by police sparked worldwide protests against racism, made an emotional plea to the US Congress Wednesday to “stop the pain” and pass reforms that reduce police brutality.

One day after burying his brother in Houston, Philonise Floyd appeared in person before a House hearing, where he described the anguish of watching a viral video of George’s death and demanded lawmakers act to fix law enforcement problems including systemic racism.

“I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain,” the younger Floyd said.

“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,” he said.

“He didn’t deserve to die over $20,” he said, referring to his brother’s alleged effort to use a counterfeit bill before his arrest.

“I’m asking you: is that what a black man is worth, $20?” Floyd thundered. “This is 2020. Enough is enough.”

Floyd, who wore an anti-virus mask bearing an image of his brother, wiped his forehead and fought back tears as he implored lawmakers to “listen to the call” he and protesters were making for justice.

“Maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death will not be in vain.”

‘The pain of America’ 

George Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, when a white officer, who has since been charged with murder, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests — some violent, most peaceful — erupted nationwide in some of the most serious US civil unrest in generations.

Lawmakers united in expressions of sorrow and support for Floyd, with longtime House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner telling him: “The pain of your brother I think has become the pain of America.”

The five-hour-plus hearing came after congressional Democrats unveiled a package of reforms this week aimed at ending police brutality.

The legislation would ban choke holds, make it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, require anti-racism training and bar fired personnel from working in police forces in other districts.

It would also restrict police departments’ use of qualified immunity, which shields officers from being held personally responsible for wrongdoing.

“If there is no accountability,” Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump said, police brutality and other abuse “will keep happening.”

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said that while most cops were decent and law-abiding, there was a “systemic problem” in law enforcement that requires comprehensive solutions.

“The nation demands and deserves meaningful change,” Nadler said.

 Killers ‘will face justice’ 

With lawmakers agreeing on the need for a genuine discussion about police treatment of African Americans, several Republicans including Jim Jordan expressed their desire to enact reforms.

“It’s as wrong as wrong can be,” Jordan told Philonise Floyd about George’s death, “and your brother’s killers will face justice.”

Lawmakers heard too from the sister of a security officer who recently died in Oakland, California in a shooting blamed on protesters.

“We will never solve generational, systemic injustice with looting, burning, destruction of property and killing in the name of justice,” said Angela Underwood Jacobs, who extended her condolences to Floyd’s brother.

She also described as “ridiculous” calls by leftist activists to “defund the police,” an effort that has been attacked by President Donald Trump and Republicans as dangerous and misguided.

Tensions rose during an exchange between House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries and Dan Bongino, a conservative radio host and former Secret Service officer.

Jeffries noted how several white accused mass murderers were arrested without incident while many unarmed black Americans have been killed in police encounters.

“I don’t know why you’re making a racial thing of it,” Bongino said.

“Because black lives matter, sir,” Jeffries said, shooting Bongino a withering look.

“Yeah, all lives matter, sir,” Bongino countered.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was launching reforms to provide “a new paradigm of peacekeeping” for the community.

The move is an apparent bid to appease the city council which recently pledged to dismantle the police force.

AFP

Thousands Mourn George Floyd Ahead Of Hometown Funeral

Interfaith leaders and others gather for a memorial service honouring George Floyd and demanding justice for those killed at the hands of the police in downtown Los Angeles, California, on June 8, 2020. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

George Floyd’s funeral will be held in his native Houston Tuesday after mourners paid their respects to the African American whose death in custody ignited global protests against police brutality and racism.

Thousands of well-wishers filed past Floyd’s coffin in a public viewing Monday as a court set bail at $1 million for the white officer charged with his murder last month in Minneapolis.

Many made the sign of the cross as they approached the open casket to say a last goodbye, while others took a knee or bowed their heads in silent prayer for a man who has become emblematic of America’s latest reckoning with racial injustice.

The six-hour viewing at The Fountain of Praise church — which drew more than 6,000 people, organizers said — was the final stage in a series of ceremonies paying tribute to Floyd before he is laid to rest next to his mother in his hometown.

In Washington, Democratic lawmakers knelt in silent tribute to Floyd before unveiling a package of police reforms in response to the killing of unarmed black Americans by law enforcement.

The congressional move came a day after the Minneapolis authorities pledged to dismantle and rebuild the police department in the city where the 46-year-old Floyd died during a May 25 arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

Derek Chauvin, the 44-year-old white officer who was filmed pressing his knee on the handcuffed Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, made his first court appearance on Monday.

The 19-year veteran, who appeared by videolink from prison, faces up to 40 years if convicted on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Chauvin did not enter a plea and the Hennepin County District Court judge set his bail at $1 million with conditions, or $1.25 million without.

The conditions would require him to surrender his firearms, not work in law enforcement or security in any capacity, and have no contact with Floyd’s family.

Three other policemen involved in Floyd’s arrest appeared in court last week to face a charge of aiding and abetting his murder.

All four officers have been fired.

‘Bringing us together’

In Houston, mourners waited patiently in stifling Texas heat, wearing face masks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s bringing us together as a country,” said Kevin Sherrod, 41, who was accompanied by his wife and two sons, aged eight and nine.

“Being here with my boys means a lot,” Sherrod added. “It is a time in history and they will remember they were part of it.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden flew to Houston on Monday for a private meeting with Floyd’s family.

“He listened, heard their pain, and shared in their woe,” said Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family attorney. “That compassion meant the world to this grieving family.”

Floyd’s death, the latest in a litany of similar deaths of black men at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in the US and beyond.

Some US cities have already begun to embrace reforms — starting with bans on the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

– ‘We hear you’ –

In Washington, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and two dozen other lawmakers knelt in silence at the US Capitol for the eight minutes and 46 seconds that Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground.

Democrats then unveiled a wide-ranging police reform bill, one of the chief demands of demonstrators who have taken to the streets for the past two weeks in the most sweeping US protests for racial justice since the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Justice in Policing Act, introduced in both chambers of Congress, would make it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, and rethink how they are recruited and trained.

“The protests we’ve seen in recent days are an expression of rage and one of despair,” House Democrat Steny Hoyer said.

“Today, Democrats in the House and Senate are saying: ‘We see you, we hear you, we are acting.'”

It is unclear what support the proposed reforms might find in the Republican-controlled Senate — or whether President Donald Trump would sign such legislation into law.

Trump has adopted a tough approach to putting down the protests and he voiced his support for the police at a roundtable on law enforcement at the White House on Monday.

“There’s a reason for less crime. It’s because we have great law enforcement,” he said. “There won’t be defunding, there won’t be dismantling of our police.”

Trump has accused “Radical Left Democrats” of seeking to “defund the police,” but Democratic leaders did not include any such language in their bill and Biden has also flatly rejected the suggestion.