Published: 12:00, June 12, 2020 | Updated: 00:40, June 6, 2023
Emotional testimony on police brutality heard
By Zhao Huanxin in Washington

Philonise Floyd, a brother of George Floyd, reacts as he describes the pain of losing his brother as he testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on proposed changes to police practices and accountability on Capitol Hill, June 10, 2020, in Washington. (ERIN SCHAFF / THE NEW YORK TIMES VIA AP, POOL)

The brother of George Floyd, an African American whose death in police custody on May 25 sparked worldwide protests, called on US Congress members on Wednesday to ensure that his big brother did not die in vain.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called for the removal of 11 statues of Confederate figures such as Jefferson Davis from the US Capitol

Also at the House of Representatives hearing on "policing practices and law enforcement accountability" on Wednesday, a Republican witness whose brother Dave Patrick Underwood, a federal law enforcement officer, was slain during unrest last month, made an urgent plea that her brother's death also not be in vain.

The hearing, held a day after Floyd's burial in his hometown of Houston, was an emotional and soul-searching session that sought to address racial injustice and police brutality. But it also reflected the divisions between those supporting sweeping police reforms and those defending assertive police practices.

"I'm here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired," Philonise Floyd, 42, told the House Judiciary Committee, after committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the United States "demands and deserves meaningful change".

ALSO READ: Calls ring out for change at Floyd funeral

About 15 minutes after Philonise Floyd spoke, Angela Underwood Jacobs, who sat at another witness table, also made an emotionally charged statement.

Jacobs was one of several witnesses called by Republicans to attend the Democratic-led hearing. Her brother, a Federal Protective Service officer, was shot and killed on May 29 while on duty in Oakland, California, amid the anti-racism protests.

After extending her condolences to Floyd's brother, Jacobs said: "Police brutality of any kind must not be condoned. However, it is blatantly wrong to create an excuse out of discrimination and disparity to loot and burn our communities, to kill our officers of the law."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called for the removal of 11 statues of Confederate figures such as Jefferson Davis from the US Capitol. The protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate statues in many cities.

These statues "pay homage to hate, not heritage", and that "they must be removed", Pelosi said in a letter to a bipartisan committee with jurisdiction over the controversial topic.

And late on Wednesday, footage from NBS affiliate WWBT showed a statue of Confederate president Davis lying in the street in Richmond, Virginia, after it was torn down from its pedestal.

'Embarrassment' for nation

On Monday, Democrats introduced legislation that would ban choke holds, prohibit racial profiling, allow victims of misconduct to sue police for damages and eliminate the "qualified immunity" for both police and correctional officers.

READ MORE: Thousands bid farewell to George Floyd

Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, who led the drafting of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, said George Floyd's death was not just a tragedy for the US, but an embarrassment for the nation.

 "While we hold up human rights in the world, we have to hold them up in our country," she said.

Also on Wednesday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called a special legislative session to address curbing police abuses and pandemic-related economic pain in the state where George Floyd, 46, was killed.

"When the legislature reconvenes on Friday, we plan to work together to pass police reform and accountability and build a stronger and more equitable economy," Walz tweeted.

Agencies contributed to the story.