Philonise Floyd has challenged Congress to “stop the pain” so that his brother George would not be just “another name” on a growing list of those killed during interactions with police.
Mr Floyd’s appearance before a House hearing came a day after a funeral service for his brother, the 46-year-old Minnesota man whose death has become a worldwide symbol in demonstrations over calls for changes to police practices and an end to racial prejudices.
“I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain,” Mr Floyd told the silenced hearing room.
Choking back tears, he said he wants to make sure that his brother, whom he called “Perry”, is “more than another face on a T-shirt. More than another name on a list that won’t stop growing”.
He directly challenged politicians to step up. “The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs. Do the right thing,” he said.
House judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler started the session as Democrats review the Justice in Policing Act, a far-ranging package of proposals amid a national debate on policing and racial inequity in the United States.
Politicians were also hearing testimony from civil rights and law enforcement leaders at the congressional hearing on proposed changes to police practices and accountability after the Minnesota man’s death in police custody and the worldwide protests that followed.
“Today we answer their call,” Mr Nadler said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi watched from the hearing audience.
Republicans are rushing to draft their own proposal but also criticising calls from activists across the country who want to “defund the police” – a catch-all term for reimagining law enforcement, but one that President Donald Trump and his allies have seized on to portray Democrats as extreme.
For hours, witnesses described what one called a “lynching” over what happened to Mr Floyd on May 25, and others placed his death alongside those of other African Americans that have created a tally becoming difficult for Congress to ignore.
Representative Karen Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is leading the legislative effort, said the proposed changes reflect a nation coming to grips with a history of racial injustice.
“This is about the kind of America we all want to see,” said Ms Bass.
The Democrats’ legislation would create a national database of police misconduct, ban police choke holds and loosen “qualified immunity” to make it easier for those injured to seek damages in lawsuits, among other changes. The proposals do not go as far as some activists’ calls to defund police departments for other community services. They do, however, make available grant money for states to reimagine ways of policing.
Republicans as well as Democrats have called for a national registry of use-of-force incidents, so police officers cannot transfer between departments without public awareness of their records.