George Floyd’s brothers on the fight for justice, remembering him on Thanksgiving
Six months after George Floyd was killed in police custody, his brothers said they still feel compelled to fight for justice every day and that when they sit down for Thanksgiving dinner they’ll be remembering some of the things they loved most about him.
“I really wanted to see him be able to have a chance to sing a song,” Philonise Floyd told “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts. “I think about when he used to pick my mom up, because my mom, she was handicapped, and he used to sing and dance with her.”
Terrence Floyd said he’s going to eat in commemoration of his late brother.
“He was an eater. He liked to eat. So I’m gonna celebrate him. You know, we’ll sit around the table and be thankful, first of all, for the time I spent with him and the encouragement and the words that he gave, because that is always going to be there,” Terrence Floyd said. “So even though his physical body is not here with us … all the things that he said to me, all the things we did together, that’s going to be a memory. I’m going to be thankful for that, and I’m gonna also eat for him.”
Floyd, 46, died on May 25 during an arrest by Minneapolis police for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. In the moments preceding his death, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes and 46 seconds, during which Floyd could be heard pleading several times, “I can’t breathe.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Chauvin and the three other responding officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Chauvin is now charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter while the other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. None have entered pleas.
Terrence Floyd said he still wonders “why” his brother had to die in such a way. However, both he and Philonise Floyd say that six months later, they’re still driven to fight for justice.
“We had to come out and let our voice be heard,” Terrence Floyd said.
“Every time I look up, I see somebody who has [gone through] what happened to my brother,” added Philonise Floyd. “I just ask myself, ‘What more do we have to do? What can we say?’ … Every day, somebody walks up to me and they ask me about my brother. It brings you back to day one. … People will tell you that, ‘Hey you’re going to get through it. The world is changing. You have to stay strong. … You didn’t have to do anything, but you chose to get out and get justice for your brother.'”
Shortly after George Floyd’s funeral, Philonise Floyd testified before the House Judiciary Committee on police reform. He said his goal was to “get them to understand why” they need to enact the George Floyd Police Reform Act, which aims to increase police accountability and reduce discriminatory practices. The bill has so far only been passed by the House.
“I don’t want to have to see anybody else pass away for nonsense,” Philonise Floyd said. “There’s too many people on Earth for us to be killing each other like this.”
While change has been slow at the federal level, on the local level, dozens of cities across the country have implemented some reforms to their police departments, such as banning chokeholds and other neck restraints.
The Floyd family’s attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, said these changes have been “significant” but that issues with police brutality still exist and incidents still happen.
As demonstrators took to the streets in the months following George Floyd’s death, as well as after the deaths of other Black people killed at the hands of police, such as Breonna Taylor, calls to “defund the police” also rang out.
The movement advocates for reallocating resources from more punitive measures to perhaps more effective ones such as funding more social workers to respond to non-criminal emergency calls. However, with its ambiguous name, it has been met with fierce opposition.
“They’re saying we need to reimagine policing in America,” Crump said. “We need to reimagine a more just society where George Floyd gets an opportunity to breathe. … We can better America. That’s what this whole notion of reimagining the police is about, and they make it a political football.”
“It’s not about politics. It’s about our children not being killed by the police,” Crump added. “That’s what this is about. We can do better, America.”
Crump said he hopes that President-elect Joe Biden will tackle criminal justice reform in his first 100 days in office and that doing so includes passing the George Floyd Police Reform Act.
In the meantime, Philonise and Terrence Floyd say they’ll continue to speak up for their brother and all those who’ve died because of police brutality.
When asked if they ever go back to the video in which their brother could be seen with Chauvin’s knee on his neck, Philonise said he doesn’t have to because it’s imprinted in his mind.
Terrence Floyd, on the other hand, watches it because “to me, it keeps the fight in me.”