George Floyd death: There’s no way US politicians can fudge the race issue now | US News

Philonise Floyd has become a powerful advocate for his brother George’s legacy.

Taking his call for action to the heart of American government was a striking moment in these remarkable times.

There is no way the country’s politicians can fudge this issue now.

“Please listen to our call,” Mr Floyd begged members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Philonise Floyd

George Floyd’s brother begged Congress to listen to protesters

A day after laying his brother to rest in Houston, Mr Floyd delivered both a moving tribute and indictment of the system as experienced by the African-American community.

“He didn’t deserve to die over $20. I’m asking you, is that what a black man’s life is worth? $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough.”

But while we are undoubtedly witnessing a rare moment, where the politicians are acting in a direct, real-time response to the protests of the people they represent, the question remains over how that will play out.

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Democrats have unveiled a plan, Republicans are promising one, the White House is said to be studying its options for Donald Trump to unveil.

Agreement between those three on anything is, sadly, very rare in today’s America.

But the extent and breadth of the protest movement and the fact that many of those politicians’ careers will be on the line come November could be the critical difference this time. They ignore or obfuscate at their peril.

There is some common ground in Washington that “something” must be done. What that “something” is and, crucially, whether it will be enough is what Americans are watching closely.

Action is already being taken at a local level with bans on the use of chokeholds and reform to other police procedures. Cities across the country are moving quickly to look at changes they can make in the wake of George Floyd‘s death.

George Floyd. Pic: Shutterstock
George Floyd was killed in police custody in May. Pic: Shutterstock

The public discussion about the history of racism and a future of equality is touching every corner of American life.

But elected officials hold the power to shift the country in a new direction.

Depressingly, some in Congress have been quick to latch on to the debate about whether to defund police departments. Turning this into an ideological slanging match, distracting from what actually can be achieved, will be a disservice to the public.

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The regard with which Americans hold their politicians in Congress is, according to every poll, staggeringly low. They have run out of patience and hope for action on most things.

But this time the public mood is different. They cannot afford to fail.

As Philonise Floyd told them, they have to do the right thing: “I’m here to ask you to make it stop.”

Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?

Sky News will broadcast a global debate show on Tuesday night at 8pm – looking at the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, and examining institutional racism and how we fix it.

If you would like to be part of our virtual audience, and have a chance of putting a question to our panel, please send your name, location and question to [email protected]

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