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George Floyd House testimony draws battle line on police defunding

Today’s House hearings on police brutality chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) quickly drew party lines, with liberal witnesses calling for systemic reforms that would see funds for police cut and reallocated to social programs, and conservative witnesses warning about the dangers of demonizing police and weakening law enforcement.

The hearings come in the shadow of George Floyd’s funeral, which took place yesterday, June 9. Four police officers have been charged in his death.

In the opening statement by witnesses at the hearing, Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, noted that his brother did not deserve to die over a $20 bill.

“I am asking you,” said Floyd, “is that what a black man’s life is worth? Twenty dollars?”

He also vowed to make sure that his brother did not die in vain, while thanking his brother for “changing the world.”

Vinita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department civil rights division under President Obama, slammed the Trump administration, arguing that federal dismantling of police oversight led to the death of George Floyd.  

She proposed that the government ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants. She also advocated for “investment” in economic opportunities and health care to mitigate crime in communities most affected by police brutality.

Other liberals proposed that that laws against lynching be federalized. Previously, liberals have expanded lynching to include any murder of black people by another race. They are currently lobbying for the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.

The sister of 53-year-old Patrick Underwood, an African American federal protective officer who was shot in Oakland last week as a result of the Floyd protests, said her brother was “murdered anonymously by blind violence.”

“I’m here to seek justice from the chaos,” Angela Underwood Jacobs told the committee, saying that the country must find lawful and peaceful solutions that protect the public and the police.

She called the issue of violence “not a black or white or blue issue,” but an issue for all humanity.

“Who will pick up Patrick’s body?” she asked the committee, noting that he also died on cold, hard concrete.

The chief of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Art Acevedo, warned that cutting police would have disastrous consequences to the communities they serve. He said police have a duty to put the safety of the community first.

Dr. Darrell Scott, a pastor from Cleveland, who leads the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, was even more scathing in his criticism of defunding the police.

“The prospect of defunding and/or dismantling of police forces across the country is one of the most unwise, irresponsible proposals by American politicians in our nation’s history,” said Scott.

He called defunding police a “reactionary” measure that would hurt minorities the most.  

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