George Floyd’s brother calls on United Nations to study police brutality in US

The brother of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death in police custody set off protests worldwide, is calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an independent commission to study police brutality against black people in the U.S.

In an emotional speech Wednesday broadcast via video before the council, Philonise Floyd urged the body to help black Americans seek justice in response to police brutality. He said that his brother’s death was not “unique,” arguing that it is “the way black people are treated by police in America.”

“You watched my brother die. That could have been me,” he said. “I am my brother’s keeper. You in the United Nations are your brothers and sisters keepers in America. You have the power to help us get justice for my brother.”

“I’m asking you to help him. I’m asking you to help me. I’m asking you to help us, black people in America,” he continued, adding that he’d like the independent commission to also investigate police use of force on peaceful protesters. 

George Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd said he could not breathe. The incident prompted protests in cities throughout the U.S., with activists demanding lawmakers address systemic racial inequities in the country. 

The U.N. Human Rights Council resumed this week with what it billed as an “urgent debate on racism, alleged police brutality and violence against protesters.” The African Group, a U.N. regional body composed of 54 African member states, requested the meeting, saying it would be “inconceivable” for the council not to address what it described as a worldwide problem. 

African countries are reportedly also circulating a draft resolution that demands an investigation into U.S. police violence and racism. 

Council President Elizabeth Tichy-Fisslberger said in a statement ahead of the session that “this is a topic that is not about just one country, it goes well beyond that.”

The Trump administration in 2018 pulled the U.S. out of of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Nikki Haley, then the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said at the time of the withdrawal that the council was a “protector of human rights abusers and cesspool of political bias.”

Philonise Floyd’s message before the council came just a week after he implored U.S. lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to get “justice for George.”

“George called for help and he was ignored,” he said while speaking before the House Judiciary Committee. “Please listen to the call I’m making to you now, to the calls of our family, and the calls ringing out in the streets across the world.”

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