Jun 10, 2020
George Floyd’s Brother Testimony Transcript on Police Brutality
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd, Chief Acevedo, Benjamin Crump, various civil rights leaders testified in a House hearing today on police brutality in America. Read the hearing & testimony transcript here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev for free and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Chairman Nadler: (00:02)
Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information and belief, so help you god?
Speaker 1: (00:12)
Chairman Nadler: (00:12)
Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Thank you, and please be seated. Please note that each of your written statements will be entered into the record in its entirety. Accordingly, I ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. To help you stay within that time, for those witnesses testifying in person, there is a timing light on your table. When the light switches from green to yellow, you have one minute to conclude your testimony. When the light turns red, it signals your five minutes have expired. For our remote participants, there’s a timer on your screen to help you keep track of time. Given the large number of witnesses, I will introduce each witness and then invite him or her to give his or her testimony before introducing the next witness. We will begin with Mr. Floyd. Philonise Floyd is the brother of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Mr. Floyd has spoken eloquently about his brother’s life, and we appreciate his being with us today, having flown to Washington to testify before us today directly from his brother’s funeral in Houston yesterday. We are all so sorry for your loss. Mr. Floyd, you may begin.
Philonise Floyd: (01:36)
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation here today to talk about my big brother, George. The world knows him as George, but I called him Perry. Yesterday, we laid him to rest. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I’m the big brother now, so it’s my job to comfort my brothers and my sisters, Perry’s kids, and everyone who loved him, and that’s a lot of people. I have to be the strong one now because George is gone.
Philonise Floyd: (02:19)
And me being the big brother now is why I’m here today to do what Perry always would have done. To take care of the family and others. I couldn’t take care of George that day he was killed, but maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death will not be in vain. To make sure that he is more than another face on a tee shirt, more than another name on a list that won’t stop growing.
Philonise Floyd: (02:53)
George always made sacrifices for our family, and he made sacrifices for complete strangers. He gave the little that he had to help others. He was our gentle giant. I was reminded of that when I watched the video of his murder. He called all the officers, “Sir.” He was mild mannered. He didn’t fight back. He listened to all the officers. The man who took his life, who suffocated him for eight minutes and 46 seconds, he still called him, “Sir,” as he begged for his life.
Philonise Floyd: (03:36)
I can’t tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch something like that, when you watch your big brother who you looked up to your whole entire life die, die begging for his mom. I’m tired. I’m tired of pain. Pain you feel when you watch something like that. When you watch your big brother who you looked up to for your whole life die, die begging for his mom.
Philonise Floyd: (04:05)
I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired. George called for help, and he was ignored. Please listen to the calls I’m making to you now, to the calls of our family and the calls ringing out the streets across the world. People of all backgrounds, genders, and races have come together to demand change. Honor them, honor George, and make the necessary changes that make law enforcement the solution and not the problem. Hold them accountable when they do something wrong. Teach them what it means to treat people with empathy and respect. Teach them what necessary force is. Teach them that deadly force should be used rarely and only when life is at risk. George wasn’t hurting anyone that day. He didn’t deserve to die over $20. I’m asking you, is that what a black man is worth? $20? This is 2020.
Philonise Floyd: (05:17)
Enough is enough. The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. By the leaders that is in our country, the world needs the right thing. The people elected you to speak for them, to make positive change. George’s name means something. You have the opportunity here today to make your names mean something too.
Philonise Floyd: (05:40)
If his death ends up changing the world for the better, and I think it will, then he died as he lived. It is on you to make sure his death is not in vain. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to Perry while he was here. I was robbed of that, but I know he’s looking down at us now. Perry, look up at what you did. Big brother, you changed the world. Thank you for everything, for taking care of us when on earth, for taking care of us now. I hope you found mama and you can rest in peace with power. Thank you.
Chairman Nadler: (06:42)
Thank you, Mr. Floyd. Vanita Gupta is the President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Ms. Gupta previously served as Acting Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice and led the department’s Civil Rights Division. She received her JD from New York University’s School of Law and her BA from Yale University. Ms. Gupta, you may begin.
Vanita Gupta: (07:08)
Thank you, Chairman Nadler. Mr. Floyd, thank you for being here today, and for those incredibly powerful words, and we are so sorry. Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Collins, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today, and thank you Chairman Nadler for calling this hearing on policing practices and the need for transformative policies that promote accountability, begin to reimagine public safety, and respect the dignity of all people.
Vanita Gupta: (07:36)
While the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers put the issue of police brutality in the national spotlight, the outpouring of pain and anger is anything but a reaction to one isolated incident or the misconduct of a few bad apples. Instead, the outcry is a response to the long cycle of stolen lives and violence with impunity toward black people in our nation.
Vanita Gupta: (08:03)
We are now at a turning point. There is no returning to normal. We have to create a new way forward, one that does more than tinker at the edges, that promotes data and training. We need something that truly transforms policing and leads to more accountability for communities. It is imperative that we get this right, and that Congress’s response in this moment appropriately reflects and acknowledges the important work of Black Lives Matter, The Movement For Black Lives, and so many people that are bringing us to this tipping point.
Vanita Gupta: (08:35)
My tenure as head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division began two months after 18 year old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson. The Justice Department was hardly perfect, but we understood our mandate, to promote accountability and constitutional policing in order to build community trust. During the Obama administration, we opened 25 pattern or practice investigations to help realize greater structural and community center change, often at the request of police chiefs and mayors who needed federal leadership. After making findings, we negotiated consent decrees with extensive engagement and input from community advocates, who not only identified unjust and unlawful policing practices, but also helped develop sustainable mechanisms for accountability and systemic change.
Vanita Gupta: (09:23)
That is not the Justice Department that we have today. Under both Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, the department has abdicated its responsibility and abandoned the use of tools like pattern and practice investigations and consent decrees. Instead, it is focused on dismantling police accountability efforts and halting any new investigations. The disruption of crucial work in the Civil Rights Division and throughout the Department of Justice to bring forth accountability and transparency in policing is deeply concerning. In the absence of federal leadership, the Leadership Conference Education Fund launched the new era of public safety initiative, a comprehensive guide and toolkit outlining proposals to build trust between communities and police departments, restore confidence, and imagine a new paradigm of public safety.
Vanita Gupta: (10:10)
While much of these changes must happen at the state and local level, success is going to require the leadership, support and commitment of the federal government, including Congress. Last week, the Leadership Conference and more than 400 civil rights organizations sent a letter to Congress to move us forward on a path of true accountability. The recommendations included the following: One, create a national necessary standard on the use of force. Two: Prohibit racial profiling, including robust data collection. Three: Ban the use of choke holds and other restraint maneuvers. Four: End the militarization of policing. Five: Prohibit the use of no knock warrants, especially in drug cases. Six: Strengthen federal accountability systems and increase the Justice Department’s authority to prosecute officers that engage in misconduct. Seven: Create a National Police Misconduct Registry, and eight: End qualified immunity.
Vanita Gupta: (11:03)
The Leadership Conference was pleased to learn that the Justice in Policing Act introduced Monday by both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate reflects much of this accountability framework. This is Congress’s most comprehensive effort in decades to substantially address police misconduct by taking on issues, critical issues affecting black and brown communities. And as the bill advances toward passage, we will continue to work on it and to ensure that real change is achieved. But let me just say in closing that policing reform alone is not going to solve the crisis that we’re in today. This moment of reckoning requires leaders together with communities to envision a new paradigm of public safety that respects the human rights of all people. That means not just changing policing practices and culture, but ultimately shrinking the footprint of the criminal legal system in black and brown people’s lives, and it means shifting our approach to public safety from exclusively focusing on criminalization and policing towards investments in economic opportunity, education, healthcare, and other public benefits. Police chiefs and officers talk about the same thing. This approach will not only further equity, but also constitute effective policy.
Vanita Gupta: (12:13)
When we stop using criminal justice policy as social policy, we will make communities safer and more prosperous. Now is the time for Congress to pass lasting accountability measures, and we look forward to working with you until the day that these reforms are signed into law. George Floyd’s death has impacted the world, and now it is on us to change it. Thank you.
Chairman Nadler: (12:39)
Thank you very much. Without objection, at the request of the Ranking Member, I will now recognize the distinguished Minority Leader of the House for a brief introduction of his constituent, our next witness, Angela Underwood Jacobs.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:55)
Thank you, Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Jordan for convening this very important hearing. Mr. Floyd, thank you for your powerful words.
Philonise Floyd: (13:05)
Kevin McCarthy: (13:05)
I’ll make one promise to you. Your brother will not have died in vain. I’m here to introduce Angela Underwood Jacobs, her husband Michael, and her daughter Trinity. More importantly, I’m here to listen to them, and all of you. Now, I know Angela, and I’m proud to call her a friend. She is a mother, a businesswoman, and the first black woman to become a city council member in Lancaster, California. Angela is here to testify because her brother, Dave Patrick Underwood, he was tragically and senselessly murdered in the line of duty two weeks ago in Oakland. We mourn and pray for Angela and the entire Underwood and Floyd family.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:56)
As a member of the Federal Protective Service, Pat was guarding a federal courthouse, a symbol of equal justice and the rule of law, during the riots in Oakland, on the night of his death. It appears his death was part of a targeted attack on federal law enforcement. We pray that justice comes swiftly and completely for Pat, for George Floyd, and all victims of violence. Pat Underwood should be alive today. George Floyd should be alive today. David Dern should be alive today, and so should countless others. And though we cannot bring them back, we can learn from their lives and deliver the justice and change they deserve.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:45)
I hope that every member of this committee will listen closely and carefully to what Angela has to say. Our nation must listen and it must heal. Like Dr. King, we must reconcile our differences with a renewed sense of love and compassion. Like President Lincoln, we must remember that we are not enemies, but we are friends, friends that have a responsibility to rise above, to make sure we all become the more perfect union we strive to be. And I hope at this moment in time, we rise to the occasion. I yield back.
Chairman Nadler: (15:30)
Thank you, Mr. McCarthy. Ms. Underwood Jacobs, you may begin.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (15:34)
Thank you very much, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to be here today. As a nation, as a people, we must come together to defeat fear, hate, prejudice, and violence. I want to ensure the memory of my brother Patrick is a catalyst against injustice, intolerance, and violence of any kind. I want to honor my brother, Dave Patrick Underwood, and our family, and help our nation think about how to navigate the righteous path to equality, freedom, and nonviolent systemic change.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (16:11)
I want to extend my sympathies and condolences to George Floyd’s family. Mr. Floyd’s murder was just not cruel and reprehensible, but criminal. The officers involved should be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions, or as well as their inaction. I wish that same justice for my brother, Patrick, who served with distinction and honor as a federal officer for the Department of Homeland Security until he was murdered anonymously by blind violence on the steps of the federal courthouse in Oakland, California. As he took his last breath on the cold, hard cement, after being shot multiple times, he died.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (17:03)
Fear, hatred, ignorance, and blind violence snatched the life of my brother Patrick from all of us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.”
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (17:37)
I have spoken to many people across this country, in fact, across the world, regarding what is going on in America. America is in pain and she is crying. Can you hear her? I am here to seek justice through the chaos for my brother Patrick, for George Floyd, for citizens of all colors, for communities across America, and for the police officers that protect those communities and their citizens every day. The actions of a few are dividing us as a nation at a time when we should be coming together and uniting for the wellbeing of all people.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (18:22)
We will never solve generational systemic injustice with looting, burning, destruction of property, and killing in the name of justice. We must find lawful, peaceful solutions that uplift and benefit everyone. And this, this is greater than a black, white, or blue issue. It is a humanity issue. When those in a position of authority choose to abuse their power, that is the very definition of oppression. And when innocent people are harmed in the name of justice, no one prevails. We all lose. Everyone deserves the opportunity to feel heard, be seen, and feel safe.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (19:13)
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. It is a ridiculous solution to proclaim that defunding police departments is a solution to police brutality and discrimination, because it’s not a solution. It gets us nowhere as a nation and removes the safety net of protection that every citizen deserves from their communities’ elected officials.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (19:52)
There is a path to achieving what we desire and deserve as a nation and as a people. Equality, fairness, justice, peace, and freedom from oppression. It is the same path we started on during the Civil Rights Movement. The solution to our nation’s ills are straightforward. Education. We need to actually invest in education again, and make it our nation’s top priority. Through education comes knowledge, through knowledge comes understanding, and through understanding comes opportunity and freedom. Jobs. If there isn’t any chance of making a decent living, there isn’t any chance of having a decent, just society. We need to create more jobs, that in turn will create more economic justice for all Americans. Housing. There is no way to live a decent life if you can’t find, or in America’s case, afford shelter. We need to listen and learn from each other.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (21:02)
It’s time for everyone to open their ears and listen to what each other has to say. America is the world’s melting pot because we have so many people, cultures, beliefs, and points of view, and somehow we’ve become siloed. As a single voice in this chambers attempting to honor my brother and family, I hope I can make a difference today. I want America to make a change. I want you, as our representatives in Congress, to make a change so that no one ever has to wake up to the phone call that I received telling me that my brother was shot dead and murdered.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (21:49)
How my brother died was wrong, and I’m praying that we learn something about how he lived. Patrick was the type of man that when our mother fell to the ground, as she was dying, he picked her lifeless body up as her spirit was leaving to place her upon her bed, because that’s where she wanted to die. My question is, who will pick up Patrick and carry his legacy? I believe this is a responsibility for all of us. Please do not let my brother Patrick’s name go in vain. Patrick was a good man who only wanted to help others and keep his community safe. He had an infectious laugh and a corny sense of humor. He would go out of his way to help family, friends and strangers. He did not deserve to die in such a horrendously inhumane way. No one does.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (22:49)
Now my family is in a state of hollow disarray. We all feel the anxiety of wondering what tomorrow may bring or may not bring, which has struck fear in our hearts. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly urge us all, all Americans, not to give into hate and anger, but to resolve conflict with kindness and love. To leave with a sense of purpose and renewed energy to create positive change, as I have outlined here, through education, jobs, housing, and listening. Pat didn’t tell anyone how to live, but he lived, and what an amazing life it was. I will never forget the way my brother smiled and the way that he loved his family with every piece of his heart. My wish is for us to live, and live without fear and discrimination. Do not simply tolerate your neighbor, but strive to understand one another, and we will be a better, more just society for all. Thank you.
Angela Underwood Jacobs: (24:01)
Chairman Nadler: (24:04)
Thank you. Our next witness is Art Acevedo, who serves as the Chief of the Houston Police Department, and also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Chief Acevedo received his BS in public administration from the University of La Verne. Chief Acevedo, you may begin.
Chief Acevedo: (24:25)
Thank you, Chairman. Ms. Underwood, Mr. Floyd, [inaudible 00:24:29] condolences. Know that we’re lifting you in our prayers. Chairman Nadler, ranking member Jordan, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to participate virtually in today’s hearing. It’s good to be with all of you, and especially my Congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Congresswoman Garcia. I want to thank Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congresswoman Bass for their leadership. As the Major Cities Chief’s Association reviews the Justice in Policing Act, please know that we support the intent and look forward to working with the committee. I appear before you today, as the chief of police in Houston, Texas, and it is also my privilege to testify on behalf of the Major Cities Chiefs Association as their president.
Chief Acevedo: (25:14)
No matter the circumstance, every time a life has taken a loved one is taken. George Floyd was a child of God and raised in Houston. His death was deeply disturbing and a shock to the conscience. Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with the Floyd family and I will continue to lift them in prayer. Mr. Floyd, thank you to you and your family for allowing us to join you on your brother’s journey home. There is no denying that changes in policing must be made. Out of crisis, comes opportunity.
Chief Acevedo: (25:49)
And this is an opportunity for all of us to have some tough conversations, to listen, to learn and to enact meaningful reform that is long overdue. As a profession, we must learn what is being shared with us. That includes being honest about our history. We must acknowledge that law enforcement’s past contains institutional racism, injustices, and brutality. We must acknowledge that policing has had a disparate treatment and impact on disenfranchised communities, especially communities of color and poor communities. Several topics have risen to the forefront and all reforms must be vetted to ensure that they are sustainable, effective, and have no unintended consequences.
Chief Acevedo: (26:41)
Law enforcement plays an important role. No two calls for service are the same. And in Houston, we respond to an average of 1.2 million calls for service annually. Those calls disproportionately originate from communities of color. If we are going to talk about better policing, we also need to talk about the root causes behind the need for those calls for service. Some think defunding the police is the answer. I’m here to tell you on behalf of our mayor, and other mayors across the country, and police chiefs across this country, and the diverse community that we serve, this is simply not the answer. Defunding, the police without addressing the social media economic reality faced by communities, and the disenfranchised, and how they are riddled with missteps, which would increase the need for police services.
Chief Acevedo: (27:35)
History has shown that underfunding the police can have disastrous consequences and hurt those most in need of our services. Appropriate police funding is critical to ensure agencies have resources to invest in technology like body worn cameras, recruit qualified police officers who are service-minded, and train in implicit bias, train in cultural competency, train in deescalation, and other critical training. The overwhelming majority of cops are good people. This cannot be lost. They are faithful public servants who put their uniform on every day willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Chief Acevedo: (28:16)
We can’t let, again, the actions of bad cops let us lose sight of the fact that most cops are good. We must all judge each other through the prism and content of our individual hearts and actions, and not through the prism of color and the uniform that we wear. While there is no national use of force standard and previous efforts at establishing one have been met with disagreement, several components are ubiquitous throughout the US. Prioritization of the sanctity of life, duty to intervene, and the use of deescalation tactics and techniques is a must.
Chief Acevedo: (28:56)
Let me be clear. The actions are the four officers involved in the death of Mr. Floyd are inconsistent, unjustified, and repulsive. They are contrary to the protocols of the police profession, and they sabotage the law enforcement community’s tireless efforts to build trust. Moving our profession forward begins with a sustained commitment to accountability. From the start of academy training, recruits must understand that they have an absolutely an absolute duty to put public safety service and security first.
Chief Acevedo: (29:31)
In the Houston police department, we instill on our men and women, the certainty that policy violations regarding truthfulness will lead to termination, or as we put it, if you lie, you die. It is important to note that every chief’s administrative authorities are different across the nation, and that not everyone has the legal authority to take immediate action like Chief Arredondo did. I am encouraged to what there have been errors in America’s history when police have found it difficult to speak up. We are speaking up today. But let that be clear, for many years, officers have consistently been holding one another accountable, and complaints about police misconduct overwhelmingly originate from within agencies, not from members of the community.
Chief Acevedo: (30:15)
Communities have a absolute responsibility as well. We ask citizens to report police misconduct without fail. This will afford us the opportunity to investigate, track, and report those complaints. We must also address the issue of officers who have been terminated with cause only to get rehired by another department. Many of us refer to these individuals as gypsy cops. Many gypsy cops have exhibited troubling behavior and that in turn undermines efforts to build trust with the public and efforts in terms of internal department accountability. Transparency breeds trust, and trust breeds respect. Mutual trust and respect between law enforcement and the public is crucial to good policing.
Chief Acevedo: (31:01)
The civil unrest occurring throughout our nation and throughout this entire country is a sobering reminder of how quickly we will lose public trust and the consequences of that fact. Ensuring the department looks more like the communities we serve helps build trust and confidence. Unique perspectives and insights help a department lead and serve the communities of color. I’m happy to report that the Major Cities Chiefs Association has several departments now that are minority majority like the city of Houston and the Houston police department, and are reflective of the communities that we serve.
Chief Acevedo: (31:40)
On behalf of the Major Cities Chiefs, I want America to know that we hear you. We will continue to do everything in our power to facilitate your right to peacefully protest. The MCCA will not shy away from this challenge and will continue to be a leader and voice in the national discourse and racial actions, policing, and reform. To the Floyd family and to the activists across the nation, our commitment is to be your voice, to join you, and to make sure that Mr. Floyd’s death was not in vain. I yield the remainder of my time and look forward to any questions the committee may have.
Chairman Nadler: (32:17)
Thank you, Chief. Our next witness is Ms. Sherrilyn Ifill. Ms. Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She received her JD from New York University school of Law and her BA from Vassar College. Ms. Eiffel, you may begin.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (32:40)
Good morning. My name is Sherrilyn Ifill. I’m the President and Director Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights legal organization formed in 1945 by Thurgood Marshall. I want to commend Chairman Adler, ranking member Jordan, I want to salute the leadership of representative Bass, and the congressional black caucus on this issue. And I want to extend on behalf of the Legal Defense Fund, my deepest condolences to the Floyd family and thank them for their courage and their voice at this important moment.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (33:17)
We welcome the Justice in Policing act as the first step in addressing the decades long, all in demand for policing reform. The legislation includes reforms that LDF’s policing reform campaign has advocated for years to ensure greater accountability for police officers who engage in misconduct and brutality. Members of Congress incorporated a number of our proposals in the act, which is a step in the right direction toward ensuring police accountability nationwide. I want first focus this committee’s attention on the significance at this moment and the importance of the federal government’s role in addressing this crisis.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (33:54)
You are in a civil rights moment. In 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967. Cities it’s all over the north in this country were gripped by urban unrest. In Watson, Detroit, Harlem, Minneapolis, and scores of other cities, black people to the streets to protest police brutality. It was during that period of unrest, that Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. brought us the language of the unheard. The 1968 Kerner Commission was created to study the source of that unrest, and much of the report’s findings and recommendations focused on law enforcement presence in black communities. This period overlapped with the years that most people think of as the core civil rights movement when black people in the south petition, protested, marched and demanded federal legislation to address segregation, voter suppression, and economic injustice.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (34:46)
The results were core civil rights statutes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. But despite the unrest in northern cities in over a hundred seats during that decade, there was no legislation to address the issue of police brutality in African American communities. And as a result, very little has changed since that period, as it relates to this issue. Therefore, too many officers know that they can commit the most heinous acts against African Americans without fear of accountability.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (35:20)
Ranking member Jordan said that the killers of George Lloyd will face justice, but we also know that those who killed Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Stewart, Clifford Glover, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and countless others never were held accountable for the crimes they committed. That snapshot of former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd with his hands in his pocket, looking out with no fear of being videotaped should shame every member of this body. Every judge, every lawyer, everyone that has participated in the perpetuation of a system that calls itself a justice system, but routinely allows officers of the state to take innocent life from the community.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (36:04)
You have the chance now to change that. One of the key parts of the system of impunity has been qualified immunity, defense that shields officials from the unforeseeable consequences of their act, but has been interpreted by courts so expansively that it now provides near immunity for police officers who engage in unconstitutional acts of violence. LDF has litigated a number of these cases. For example, in 2018, we filed a petition in the United States Supreme Court appealing a decision of the United States court of appeals for the 11th circuit that affirmed summary judgment in favor of a law enforcement officer who tased our client, Harry Illidge, 19 times to death. The US Supreme Court denied the petition. Now, this case was not a one off. Every year cert petitions are filed in the court seeking review of cases in which law enforcement officers have successfully alluded accountability for the most violent form of brutality by raising the qualified immunity defense.
Sherrilyn Ifill: (37:02)
The Justice in Policing Act seeks to address qualified immunity by amending the civil rights statute used most in police excessive use of force cases, 14 USC, section 1983, and we welcome this amendment. We want it to apply it to all civil suits that are pending or filed after enactment of the act. And we will continue to work towards the elimination of qualified immunity. There’s bipartisan support for ending qualified immunity. And so I’ll close my remarks by quoting from a federal circuit court judge in a decision issued just this week in the 4th circuit court of appeals. It was written by the judge appointed first to the bench by George W. Bush. And he said in Jones vs. City of Martinsburg, Judge Henry Floyd said, “Wayne Jones was killed just one year before the Ferguson Missouri shooting of Michael Brown would once again draw a national scrutiny to police shootings of black people in the United States. Seven years later, we’re asked to decide whether it was clearly established that five officers could not shoot a man 22 times as he lay motionless on the ground.”
Sherrilyn Ifill: (38:07)
Before the ink dried on this opinion, the FBI opened an investigation into the death of yet another black man at the hands of police. This time, George Floyd in Minneapolis. This has to stop. To avoid qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage in this case would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of force, which we cannot accept. This decision represents a minority of cases. And so we need Congress to act. You are required by history to meet this civil rights moment. It is a moment in which we have a chance to transform our approach to public safety, to recognize that most community conflicts do not require the intervention of an armed officer, and to speak our values through federal and state budgets that prioritize our commitment to antidiscrimination, to public health, and to true public safety for all. Thank you.
Chairman Nadler: (39:05)
Thank you. Our next witness is Darrell Scott, who is the founder and senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center, a nondenominational church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio pastor Scott is also the author of the book. Nothing to Lose: Unlikely Allies in the Struggle For a Better Black America. Pastor Scott, you may begin.
Darrell Scott: (39:32)
Chairman Nadler, members of committee, ranking member Jordan, thank you for inviting me to participate in these very serious hearings today. I want to begin by stating that the prospect of defunding and or dismantling police forces across the country is one of the most unwise, irresponsible proposals by American politicians in our nation’s history and makes absolutely no sense at all, at least to me. I believe it is nothing short of the politicizing of current social events in an effort to garner volt during this election season. I also believe that it’s a reactionary measure that can and will result in short and long term damage to American society, particularly in our inner city and urban communities. Now, I recognize the fact that the elimination of excessive force and physical retaliation by officers of the law against American citizens is paramount today. I recognize the fact that racial profiling and the harsh treatment of minorities is a very real reality that must be eliminated immediately.
Darrell Scott: (40:44)
I myself can testify of time to my life when I felt racially profiled by police. I can testify of times in my life when I was pulled over for driving while black. I can testify of giving my grandson, who is now of driving age, the talk of how to properly behave if pulled over by police, because he had the question of a very real fear of the possibility of death at the hands of police. In fact, my very first interaction with police when I was 13 years old, resulted in me being roughed up. I could very easily have been George Floyd. George Floyd could have very easily been me, my brothers, my friends, or any number of any other black men in America. However, I do not recommend throwing the baby out with the bath water by labeling all police officers as bad cops, simply because of the bad actions of a rogue segment of those whose job is supposed to be to protect and to serve American citizens.
Darrell Scott: (41:49)
In fact, in certain inner city communities across America, increased funding for police and increased police presence is actually necessary in order to enforce the law and to guarantee the safety and the security of law abiding members of those communities. As one who was formally in that street life years ago, I might be a pastor, but I didn’t come down from Heaven. I came up out of Hell with the rest of everybody else. I was formerly in that street life. I know very much about the criminal element, and I can state definitively that the criminal element in and of society would enjoy nothing better than a reduction in police presence and police power. It would allow those with criminal intentions and criminal actions to flourish virtually unchallenged in the communities of America. The law abiding members of society would be directly threatened by the absence of police or the inability of police to respond to criminal activities and in many cases would endeavor to take the law into their own hands to ensure that their safety and wellbeing as evidenced by the response of some who decided to defend themselves and their property from vandalism.
Darrell Scott: (43:04)
An absence of police presence could potentially give rise to acts of domestic terrorism, mob rule, gang rule, neighborhood intimidation, oppression, and vigilantism. Defunding of police departments has already happened in a number of American cities. And rather than remedying problems has actually made conditions much worse. The city of Cleveland, my hometown, is a prime example of the result of police defunding. In 2004, the city of Cleveland laid off 285 officers. The entire police budget was slashed by 31%. To cover basic services, the following units were either disbanded or cut forever. The district strike force units. The narcotics unit was completely cut. SWAT was downsized. The fugitive unit was disbanded. The auto theft unit was disbanded. The intelligent unit was cut to bare bones. The mounted unit was cut 85%, the aviation unit, was down completely for three years is only utilized during special events. The harbor unit was disabled. The boat sits rotting in a dry dock. The scientific investigation unit was cut 80%. All the lab techs were let go. All evidence collection is now done by priority.
Darrell Scott: (44:20)
The DARE problem. The drug abuse resistance education program was cut. Community policing was cut 45%. Cleveland went through a decade long downsizing which saw the department reduced from 1900 officers to 1500 officers on average. Zone car coverage, which directly affects citizens, has been cut. Police presence in any given district on any given shift has been cut in half. One in two man units have been cut in half. Response time is dramatically longer, if the police show up at all. The murder rates have climbed, the property crime is at record levels. Aggravated robbery statistics are higher. Drug sales, drug use, drug abuse is higher. Drug and alcohol related motor vehicle accidents are the highest they’ve ever been. Cleveland has went from a relatively safe city per capita to an unbelievably unsafe city. Cost for service have increased even though the population has dropped significantly over the last 20 years. Once safe areas of the city are now unsafe. Once nice neighborhoods in the city are now not nice. Homicides are up 55% in Cleveland from this time last year. And Cleveland now has a higher murder rate per 100,000 residents than Chicago does.
Darrell Scott: (45:42)
I believe that police departments are only as effective as politicians and their appointees allow them to be. Consequently, politicians and appointees are directly responsible for the state of their police departments. Law abiding citizens, and I’ve spoken to a great deal of them, overwhelmingly think that deep funding or disbanding police departments is a horrible idea. Community policing is a very viable option to address the needs of inner city communities. Having police in the communities to actually get to know the residents is the best way to obtain the results that we all want. When I was growing up, the residents and the business owners knew the police officers that were assigned to our neighborhoods, and their presence was a deterrent to criminal activity. So in short, defunding of police departments in America has already happened. And it was proven to be an epic fail. We cannot allow that paradigm to continue if we want the neighborhoods of America to be safe to live in, the streets of America to be safe for residents to walk on, and the communities of America conducive for businesses to thrive in.
Darrell Scott: (46:55)
So I recommend, and I agree with the fact that police reform or better yet police revision should be enacted, but it has to be one that is sensitive to the stress, tension, pressure, and paranoia that policing produces. The fact that on any given day, any given call, any given stop can result in an officer’s death can be very challenging mentally, while also being sensitive to the citizens of America who are supposed to be protected by the police, and not be enemies of the police, whether in the suburbs or in the inner cities, whether we’re black, white, red, yellow, or brown. I really believe that most police officers, most cops began their careers, most bad cops began their careers as good cops, but they allow the rigors of their job to affect their perspectives and their social interaction with those they are supposed to protect, and they began perceiving those that they are supposed to protect as those they themselves need to be protected from. I’m in agreement, I endorsed police reform, but…
Pastor Darrell Scott: (48:03)
I’m in agreement. I endorse police reform, but it has to be sensitive to both sides of that issue. Thank you for allowing me. God bless you.
Chairman Nadler: (48:12)
Thank you. Before I call the next witness, I just remind witnesses to turn off their mikes when you’re not speaking. Turn them on if you’re speaking, turn them off when you’re not speaking, please. My next witness is Mr. Paul Butler he’s the Albert Brick Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where he specializes in Criminal Law and Race Relations. Professor Butler is also the author of the book, Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice and Choke Hold Policing of Black Men. Mr. Butler received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Yale University. Mr. Butler, you may begin.
Mr. Paul Butler: (48:49)
Chairman Nadler, ranking member Jordan, honorable members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify. Mr. Floyd and Ms. Underwood-Jacobs. I’m so sorry for your loss. May the memory of your brothers, the memory of the other marchers, be a blessing to the people all over the country, all over the world who are rising up in what Martin Luther King called the beautiful struggle for equal justice.
Mr. Paul Butler: (49:18)
There has never, not for one minute in American history, been peace between black people and the police. And nothing since slavery has sparked the level of outrage among African Americans, as when they feel under violent attack by the police. Black people have endured Jim Crow segregation, being shut out of Social Security and the GI Bill, massive resistance to school desegregation, nonstop efforts to prevent us from voting, and poisoned water.
Mr. Paul Butler: (49:52)
But the rare times black people have set aside traditional civil rights strategies, and instead have risen in the streets, destroyed property and resisted symbols of the state has been because of something that the police have done. Watson ’65 and Newark in ’67, Miami 1980, LA 1992, Ferguson 2015, Baltimore 2016, Minneapolis in 2020. All of those cities went up in flames because the police killed another black man. Unlawful violence is never acceptable, either as a misguided approach of a few or as an abuse of the power and trust we place in law enforcement officers.
Mr. Paul Butler: (50:39)
The main problem is not bad apple cops. Officers have difficult jobs and many serve with honor and valor. Still, almost every objective investigation of a police department finds that police as policy treat African-Americans with contempt. The police kill, wound, pepper spray, beat detain, frisk, handcuffs, and used dogs against black people in circumstances in which they do not do the same to white people. When armed agents of the state are harming American citizens in our name, we, the people, must ask why.
Mr. Paul Butler: (51:17)
In the past two weeks we’ve seen acts of grace and bravery by police officers. Cops in New York took a knee. In Houston, Chief Acevedo arranged for an honor guard to accompany Mr. Floyd’s body when he came home. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed, these past two weeks, police officers commit deplorable acts of violence against the citizens they’ve sworn to serve and protect. In New York officers drove two large police vehicles into a crowd of protestors. In Atlanta officers broke the window of a car, dragged out two college students and shot them with a stun gun.
Mr. Paul Butler: (51:57)
In Buffalo, a police officer knocked a 75 year old man to the ground, but what happened next was just as bad. When two officers were disciplined for that criminal conduct, 57 other officers quit the Scot in protest. President Obama’s Task Force on Policing decried the warrior mentality present among too many law enforcement officers. In Buffalo, the nation saw warriors on steroids.
Mr. Paul Butler: (52:25)
African American and Hispanic people disproportionately bear the costs. Blacks are about 20% of the population of Minneapolis, but 60% of the people who cops use violence against. The result is that there are more black people in the criminal legal system today than there were slaves in 1850.
Mr. Paul Butler: (52:42)
When I mentioned to a young man I mentor that if he attended protests, he should wear a mask. He said he certainly would try, but he wanted me to know that as a young black man, he has a greater risk of dying from police violence than from the Corona virus. According to the national Academy of science, one in 1000 African-American men and boys will be killed by the police. But African-Americans need to realize equal justice under the law is for selective enforcement and police brutality to end, we need the police to stop killing us, to stop beating us up, to stop arresting us in situations in which they would not do those things to white people.
Mr. Paul Butler: (53:25)
The Justice in Policing Act is a common sense reform. Among other things, it requires cops to be trained on understanding racial bias. In Minneapolis those three officers crushed the life out of Mr. Floyd and another served as a lookout. Somebody in the crowd said to the cops, “He’s human, bro,” but these four officers did not treat Mr. Floyd like a human being. Too often police work seems to enforce the dehumanization of people of color. Understanding the history and reality of racism in the United States will make our men and women in blue more effective officers.
Mr. Paul Butler: (54:05)
In the end, this hearing is about the legitimacy and sustainability of our democracy. No justice, no peace is not a threat. It is simply a description of how the world works. The multiracial, multi-generational demonstrations that have risen up all over the United States reflect the wonderful diversity of our great nation and the potential of ordinary citizens to make our country live up to its highest ideals. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 heralds the urgency of transformation and the promise for all Americans of equal justice under the law.
Chairman Nadler: (54:55)
Thank you Mr. Butler. My next witness is Benjamin Crump. Benjamin Crump is the founder and principal owner of Ben Crump Law. He’s also currently representing George Floyd’s family. Mr. Crump received his JD and BA from Florida State University. Mr. Crump, you may begin.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (55:16)
Thank you, Chairman Nadler and distinguished members of the committee. I know all the speakers have five minutes to speak, but I wish it was eight minutes and 46 seconds, not as a symbolic gesture, but as an actual exact time reference of how long George Floyd literally begged. He literally narrated a documentary of his death, begging for his life, saying “I can’t breathe” and calling for his mama.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (55:58)
The death of George Floyd has galvanized the world and mobilized Americans to demand a more just system of policing because it’s become painfully obvious that what we have right now are two systems of justice, one for white Americans and another for black Americans. George is one in a long line of black Americans who unjustly are killed at the hands of police or, in George’s case, at the knee of the police, including Briana Taylor, Pamela Turner, Botham Jean, Michael Brown, Stefan Clark, Eric Gardner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Terence Crutcher, Laquan McDonald, just to name a few, and the list goes on and on, but it is important Mr. Chairman, that we remembered their names.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (57:11)
It’s way past time that we revised the role of police to become peacekeepers and community partners. Of course, they must be prepared to protect themselves and the public in direct, life-threatening situations, but these should be the exception and not the rule. What we are witnessing throughout our country is not that. Americans are being teargassed in the streets, hit with rubber bullets, shoved violently to the ground, cracking their skulls against the pavement, beaten bloody with batons, and for what? For demanding justice for black Americans. Our constitutional rights are under attack and not in the shadows, but in the broad daylight.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (58:10)
Changing the behavior of police and their relationships with people of color starts at the top. We need a national standard for policing behavior built on transparency and accountability. The only reason we know what happened to George Floyd is because it was captured on video. The advent of video evidence is bringing into the light what long was hidden. It’s revealing what black Americans have known for a long, long time: that it is dangerous for a black person to have an encounter with a police officer. Given the incidents that have led to this moment in time, it should be mandatory for police officers to wear body cams and should be considered obstruction of justice to turn them off. Like a black box data recorder in an airplane, body cams replace competing narratives with a single narrative: the truth. With what we see with our own eyes.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (59:35)
Second, insist that police officers only use the level of force needed based on the level of threat actually posed by the circumstances. We’ve seen way too many black people shot in the back or unarmed black people shouting killed, or a handcuffed black man face down on the pavement, asphyxiated by a knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, though he posed no threat at all. Neck restraints were used by Minnesota police more than 200 times resulting in suspects losing consciousness at least 44 times. Lethal restraints like choke holds and strangle holds should be outlawed.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (01:00:33)
Finally, reform how qualified immunity applies to police officers. If officers know they have immunity, they act with impunity. If officers know they can unjustly take the life of a black person with no accountability, they will continue to do so. That’s what you saw in the eyes of Derek Shovan with his hand casually tucked in his pocket as he extinguished the life of George Floyd. Accountability requires that officers face public consequences for unjustly taking a life or brutalizing a fellow American that they are sworn to protect and serve.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (01:01:27)
Too often many officers are silent in the face of evil because of the blue shield, the brotherhood of police officers, which fosters systematic racism and abuse. But there’s a higher brotherhood that God calls us to honor: the brotherhood of mankind, black and white. That’s what we’re witnessing in the diversity of the protesters, filling our streets even today. And that’s the brotherhood our police officers must honor above all.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (01:02:07)
The founding fathers knew they had not built an infallible system, a faultless union, but they did task us with the perpetual duty to aim for it. A more perfect union of justice, liberty, resilience, hope, and compassion. We have to do better. And we must strive to live up to those American ideals. We are better than this.
Mr. Benjamin Crump: (01:02:41)
Chairman, members of the committee, you have the power to make this moment in history the tipping point so many of us have been waiting for, fighting for and praying for. That Americans are marching for. You have the power to make sure that George Floyd’s death is not in vain. I’ve been asking for us to take a breath. Number one, the breath that George Floyd was denied. Secondly, take a breath to consider how we use police in our society and how we hold them accountable for the tremendous power we place in their hands. Thirdly, to take a breath, to consider how we create a more perfect union that extends equal protection and equal justice to people of color. And finally, to take a breath for George Floyd, because his life mattered, and black lives matter. I thank you, chairman.
Chairman Nadler: (01:04:06)
Thank you, Mr. Crump. Ron Davis is the Legislative Affairs Chair of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE. From 2013 to 2017 Mr. Davis directed the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the US Department of Justice. In 2014, he was appointed Executive Director of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Mr. Davis received his BA from Southern Illinois University and completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Davis, you may begin.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:04:46)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and ranking member Collins. One [inaudible 01:04:53] today on behalf of NOBLE and on behalf of our president, Police TCJ Davis [inaudible 01:05:01] we want to, again, thank you for allowing us to testify today. As you mentioned, before serving as a director of the conference, we also sort of close to 30 years as a police officer, 20 years in Oakland, and about nine years as a police chief in the city Palo Alto.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:05:19)
I do want to say NOBLE joins the nation in condemning the heinous killing of Mr. Floyd, and we offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers for the Floyd family. And I want to thank Mr. Floyd this morning for his powerful testimony and strong recommendations.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:05:34)
Yet, Mr. Chairman, we know that the date [inaudible 01:05:37] Floyd is just one in a long list of tragedies. We also know that the vast majority, as the Reverend had mentioned, of police officers in this country are decent, honorable, committed men and women to service, but we know that the core problem policing [inaudible 01:05:54] bad apples. I think too often, we focus on the bad apples and we need to acknowledge, Mr. Chairman, that the problems we see today, continuing to use draconian policing systems that still suffer from [inaudible 01:06:09] of racism and severe institutional deficiencies. Under these systems, even good cops have bad outcomes, and bad cops and racist cops can operate with impunity.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:06:21)
Most of the systems that we are talking about that determine why we police, how we police, where we police, were constructed in the forties, fifties, and sixties. And they were actually constructed to enforce Jim Crow and other discriminatory practices. In other words, this committee should acknowledge, the nation needs to acknowledge that our policing systems are in fact not broken. They are doing what they were actually designed to do.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:06:47)
To understand this hard truth is to recognize that this system can not be reformed, it must be reconstructed. It also means that the demand for policing reform should not require an indictment against all police. In fact, it is our hope that our brothers and sisters who wear the badge will not only embrace this moment, but will join this movement and become a part of the change that is needed. We’ve seen police chiefs and officers walk with crowds and take a knee, and that is great. We now need them to take a stance and stand with the community as we reconstruct this unjust system.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:07:20)
The first step in reconstructing a new system is to strengthen police accountability and trust with our communities. This in fact was the core charge that President Obama gave the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. And in 2015, the Task Force provided recommendations for police agencies and their communities to advance this. Unfortunately, the Trump administration not only tossed this report away and it’s actually retreated backwards to the so-called law and order days, days in which the mass arrest of men color was this nation’s crime strategy. We need to abandon that dangerous rhetoric. We need to abandon the idea of law and order, and we need to embrace a peace and justice mantra that enhances public safety and assures justice for all.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:08:05)
Mr. Chairman, we need to support the federal government to further advanced the recommendations from President Obama’s Task Force. We also need to make some immediate actions. And in an interest of time, I will say that we support the eight bullets that Benita Gupta outlined with the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights. And I won’t go over those eight bullets since she’s already given her testimony. We also believe that we need to immediately rescind the Sessions memo so that the Department of Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, can immediately restore the use of consent decrees where appropriate.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:08:36)
We believe that we should restore programs within the cop’s office that allows police departments to do voluntary reviews so that they can identify deficiencies in their operating systems and structural programs. And we believe that all police agencies should obtain some type of accreditation before receiving federal funds.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:08:57)
We also need the federal government’s help in supporting local and state efforts. In the absence of this DOJ, it’s been the states that have been stepping up. So for example, the state of California and Governor Gavin Newsom passed Assembly Bill 392, the most comprehensive use of force reform bill in the nation. Last week, Governor Newsom also ordered the state to stop teaching the carotid hold, or carotid restraint or choke hold, and made clear that he would support any legislation that prohibit those techniques. In Illinois, former Attorney General Lisa Madigan and current Attorney General Kwame Raoul used their office to negotiate with the city of Chicago to adopt the most comprehensive consent decree in the nation’s history. And in California, Attorney General Vocera used his office to conduct pattern and practice investigations, provide organizational assessments and use of force reviews.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:09:51)
And most recently in Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison worked with Department Safety Commissioner John Harrington and used their office to convene a task force, a working group of diverse people to address the issue of police deadly encounters. Now, unfortunately the group released their report just weeks after Mr. Floyd was killed, so it was too late to impact that tragedy, but it does provide a roadmap for Minnesota as it moves forward.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:16)
These are all activities that the Trump administration [inaudible 01:10:16].
Chairman Nadler: (01:10:18)
Thank you Mr. Davis…
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:21)
And these are all activities that are sorely needed if we’re going to address police reform. In sum, the recommendations that have been outlined, the ones I just mentioned, the ones that Ms. Gupta had outlined, the ones that you’ve heard today are all contained in the Justice in Policing Act. And we appreciate Congresswoman Basque, yourself, Mr. Nadler, and all the co-sponsors for introducing this comprehensive bill, and NOBLE looks forward to working with this body as you move the bill forward.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:46)
As we proceed there-
Chairman Nadler: (01:10:48)
Thank you. Thank you.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:49)
[crosstalk 01:10:49] and departments can take.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:53)
I want to basically quickly go over five points that I would ask-
Chairman Nadler: (01:10:53)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:54)
… my colleagues…
Chairman Nadler: (01:10:54)
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:10:55)
… police chiefs and police leaders to follow, and that these are the steps that we can do to start the racial reconciliation that was mentioned earlier that we have yet to do, and to start the re-imagining policing process.
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:11:07)
The first step is to publicly acknowledge the historical, and current, [inaudible 01:11:12] that we just say historical, but the historical and current police abuses that occur and its impacts on communities of color. The more police chiefs do so publicly, the more we can start our reconciliation. Second, the acceptance of responsibility to change our policing system and its culture. Three, I think it is time for all police officers to reaffirm their oath of office to the constitution, to the core principles of our democracy. And I say that because we need to remind them that the oath is to the constitution, not to each other, not to the police department, not to the police union, but to the constitution and our democracy. Four, collaborate with community to redefine and re-imagine policing, including the development of reinvestment strategies that rely less on police are more community based safety programs. As we debate-
Mr. Ron Davis: (01:12:02)
… community-based safety programs. As we debate about the funding [inaudible 01:12:04] departments, I think we can have some core [inaudible 01:12:07] that we definitely need to invest in the social programs, the community-based programs that go more to the core problems of crime than just [crosstalk 01:12:17]
Chairman Nadler: (01:12:17)
Mr. Davis, your time has expired. Mr. Davis, thank you for your testimony. Your time has expired.
Chairman Nadler: (01:12:24)
Our next witness is Daniel Bongino. Daniel Bongino has served with both the New York Police Department and the United States Secret Service. He’s also a bestselling author and host of the Dan Bongino Show podcast. Mr. Bongino has an MBA from Penn State University and both an MA and BA from the City University of New York.
Chairman Nadler: (01:12:45)
Mr. Bongino, you may begin.
Daniel Bongino: (01:12:47)
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Jordan, I deeply appreciate the opportunity to speak on this critical issue. Ms. Underwood-Brooks, Mr. Floyd, deeply sorry for your loss. I can only hope you take some solace in the justice that we all pray is to come. I mean that. That was a tough video to watch for all of us.
Daniel Bongino: (01:13:09)
Police officer Dan O’Sullivan. He was a friend of mine. We went through the police academy together. Sadly, we lost touch when we graduated. We were both assigned to separate precincts, different areas of the city of New York. Dan and I were briefly reunited in 1998, but it was no joyous occasion. I was reunited with Dan in a hospital in Queens where he was hospitalized with devastating injuries after pulling over, off-duty, to assist a driver in a critical emergency situation. He was hurt badly. Dan was the very essence of a public servant. Dan always put himself last while putting his commitment to the safety and security of the public he pledged to serve always first. That was the Dan I knew.
Daniel Bongino: (01:13:57)
Through my employment with both the NYPD and the United States Secret Service, I had the honor and profound privilege of working with agents and police officers who had committed themselves to a higher cause, just like Dan. I met so many of these committed public servants that, sadly, I can’t even recall all their names anymore. These are good men and women. Yes, as with any profession, there are officers, no question, who aren’t suited for the job. Some will cause trouble, sometimes worse. We’ve seen that. But in my experience, this is rare and becoming rare. The special agents I work with and remain friends with to this day in the Secret Service joined members of the NYPD and the New York City Fire Department on that tragic day of September 11, 2001. You know what they did? They sprinted into those burning buildings and personally escorted people out. As we all know, those buildings collapsed, taking many of those brave NYPD, FDNY souls with them. Those brave souls were running into the buildings. Everyone else was evacuating. These are the types of people I was honored and deeply privileged to work with. Public safety came first. Everything else came second, sometimes even their own families.
Daniel Bongino: (01:15:13)
The defund the police movement will target these heroes. They are the police, these people. It’s not some amorphous mass that will be affected, it’s real heroes in real time. Right now. Removing these heroes from your communities and my community will do nothing but ensure chaos and destruction. Police officers are the front lines, putting themselves between the evildoers among us and the honest, hardworking Americans just yearning for some security and prosperity and a small slice of Americana. We can and should commit to police accountability. There’s no question about that, but we can do it without shredding the thin wall between civilization and chaos.
Daniel Bongino: (01:15:53)
There are few jobs in the country as stressful as policing. I receive an email or a text a few times a year notifying me about the death or injury of a police officer I knew, worked with, or knew someone I worked with. Imagine if that was happening at your job. Think about that just for a minute. God forbid you found out a co-worker of yours was killed or injured in the line of duty, in the course of doing their job. You didn’t just get the text, you got this text a couple of times a year. That’s policing. That’s what they do. They risk their own lives for yours. I’ll say in closing, I spoke at an event for police officers years ago, and a spouse of one of these heroes said this. She said, “The most wonderful sound in the world for the spouse of a police officer is the sound of Velcro at night.” You may be saying, “Why Velcro?” Because it’s how a police officer’s body armor is secured to their bodies. When that body armor comes off and that sound that echoes in their ears, the families of these heroes know that they’re finally home safely.
Daniel Bongino: (01:17:02)
I ask you please, with the greatest of respect and humility, please stop this defund the police abomination before someone gets hurt. Thank you for your time.
Chairman Nadler: (01:17:13)
Thank you Mr. Bongino.
Chairman Nadler: (01:17:14)
Our next witness is Phillip Goff. Phillip Goff is the co-founder and president of the Center for Policing Equity. He also serves as the inaugural Franklin A. Thomas professor in policing equity at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Dr. Goff received his PhD and MA from Stanford University and an AB from Harvard University.
Chairman Nadler: (01:17:35)
Dr. Goff, you may begin.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:17:40)
Thank you, Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Jordan, members of the House Judiciary Committee.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:17:44)
(silence) want to say that we mourn with you. And to Mr. Floyd, I want to thank you especially for your powerful witness in front of this body and the entire country. I offer my deepest condolences for the circumstances that made your presence here necessary. I want to say that your words have moved a nation that was already mourning with you.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:18:14)
To everyone gathered, it is my honor to be back before the committee to provide testimony on policing practices and law enforcement accountability.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:18:22)
My background and training are in behavioral science. I am the inaugural Franklin A. Thomas professor in policing equity. I was a witness for the president’s task force in 21st-century policing, a member of the National Academies of Sciences Committee that issued a consensus report on proactive policing, and was one of the three leads on the recently concluded Department of Justice-funded national initiative for building community trust and justice. But I’m likely best known for my work with the Center for Policing Equity, a leading research and action organization focused on equity in policing. My testimony today is in that capacity.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:18:53)
CPE maintains the National Science Foundation-funded National Justice Database, which we understand is the largest collection of police behavioral data in the world. Our work focuses on combining police behavioral data, psychological survey data, and data from the US Census to estimate not just racial disparities in police outcomes such as stops and use of force, but the portion of those disparities for which law enforcement are actually responsible and can do something about.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:19:17)
I have to say that what we have seen in the streets in the United States over the past two weeks nearly defies description. Some have called it massive protest. Others have called it a riot. Others have called it a revolution. What I am confident is that what we have seen has been larger than the incident that sparked collective outrage, and is still tearing at the fabric of our democracy. What has spilled out onto the streets of this nation is even larger than our grief at the brutal extinction of George Floyd’s light and the light of the thousand citizens per year killed by police, a number that has not changed significantly since newspapers began cataloging those numbers in 2015. What we’re seeing on the streets of the United States is a past due notice for the unpaid debts owed to black people for 400 plus years. If the responses to this moment are not proportional to that debt, I fear we will continue to pay it with interest again and again, and again.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:20:16)
Turning to the complex issue of police reform, I applaud the work of Chairman Nadler and Congresswoman Bass in putting forth a comprehensive proposal to rethink how we best hold law enforcement accountable to the ideal of equality. The Justice and Policing Act of 2020 contains a number of critical reforms, including banning neck restraints and creating a national registry of police misconduct. In my capacity at CPE, however, I want to spend a moment focusing on what science says about bias and policing. I feel it’s important to set a baseline, especially with all of the false information circulating in the media, given the literal vacuum in the ecosystem on evidence in this area.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:20:52)
First, there is no doubt that black, native and Latin-X people in this country have more contact with law enforcement than white people. There’s also relative agreement that where there are fewer public services, so fewer drug treatment, mental health, job-training programs, law enforcement has more contact with residents. There is evidence of racial bias in who is contacted by police and who is targeted for force. However, it is also the case that clearly not all the disparities we see are from police policy or behavior. It is some, but not all. Given this understanding of bias in policing, what are we to do?
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:21:32)
As we’ve already heard today, the most recent debate is between institutional reform and defunding the police. While there is no quantitative research literature on abolishing policing, their are reasons to believe that many within black communities are not fully-aligned with this vision. Historical and polling research revealed that black communities support less biased and less deadly law enforcement more than eliminating it. But with the mood of the nation changing so quickly, so to may these attitudes. And still, to the degree that a path forward involves using police budgets to invest in black communities, the process must be led by evidence. Evidence about what programs work, both in policing and in communities, and evidence about where cities can safely receive a higher return on their investment in community empowerment. Regardless, there is no need to wait for a decision on police budgets to invest in our most vulnerable communities.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:22:27)
Wherever the country lands on police budgets, we can all agree the communities that have the resources to solve their own problems and do not need to call the police in the first place are safer communities that are better equipped to realize the American dream. There is no reason to avoid this obvious truth, and there is no reason not to act on it now.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:22:48)
As I previously mentioned, the Justice and Policing Act of 2020 contains the best federal police reform package of the bills I have seen before this Congress, and CPE supports its passage. Many of our partners in law enforcement,-
Chairman Nadler: (01:23:00)
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:23:01)
The chiefs who are experts on public safety, support many of its provisions, especially the federal ban on neck restraints and the implementation of a national registry of police officers who have been fired for misconduct. These reforms are long overdue, and such common sense reforms should be enacted immediately.
Chairman Nadler: (01:23:18)
Thank you very-
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:23:19)
More specifically and briefly, I want to emphasize the need for a national registry of police officers who’ve been fired for misconduct.
Chairman Nadler: (01:23:25)
Thank you very much.
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:23:25)
It’s a reform that will increase transparency and the public’s trust in law enforcement agencies. Doctors and lawyers, those tasked with protecting life and liberty, as officers have to do both on their jobs every day, those along with many other professions are required to be licensed and their employment data are shared across state lines by appropriate entities and in appropriate ways.
Speaker 3: (01:23:45)
Dr. Phillip Goff: (01:23:46)
Without [crosstalk 00:01:23:47]-
Chairman Nadler: (01:23:47)
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Goff. Your five minutes have expired.
Chairman Nadler: (01:23:52)
Our next witness is Marc Morial. Marc Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League. Mr. Morial also served as mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002. He received his JD from Georgetown Law School and his BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Chairman Nadler: (01:24:12)
Mr. Morial, you may begin.
Marc Morial: (01:24:13)
Thank you very much Chair Nadler and Ranking Member Jordan, members of the committee. To representative Bass, thank you for your incredible leadership on this issue.
Marc Morial: (01:24:24)
First, we at the National Urban League, strongly support the passage of the Justice in Policing Act. To Mr. Floyd and Ms. Underwood-Jacobs, I join in sharing our thoughts and our prayers with you on your losses. Your courage is admirable. Thank you very much.
Marc Morial: (01:24:43)
Between 1882 and 1968, that’s an 86 year period, 4,742 people, mostly black, were lynched in the United States. These murders were turned into public spectacles, with people being tortured, mutilated, and burned in front of hundreds of spectators mocking their deaths. In 1922, the United States House of Representatives had the courage to pass a bill to make lynching a federal crime. However, white supremacists in the United States Senate filibustered that bill and blocked 200 attempts to pass that bill, a blockage which continues to this day in the United States Senate. Imagine if in 1922, the Congress of the United States had demonstrated the courage to make lynching a federal crime. How many of those 4,742 people would not have died?
Marc Morial: (01:26:11)
Today, we look at most recent history and we see from 1954 to 1965, dozens of civil rights activists were murdered, including the four little girls at that Birmingham church in 1963. But this Congress in 1964 and 1965, this Congress with Bipartisan majorities and the courage of a Southern president, who had previously supported segregation, demonstrated the courage and the conviction to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Marc Morial: (01:27:06)
Since 2013, when Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, 1,291, black people have been shot and killed by the police. Over 100 of them were unarmed. Now in 2020, as we stand just six years away from the 250th anniversary of this nation, before the eyes of the world, George Floyd was lynched on the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The world, from Hungary to New Zealand, to Australia, to Paris, to London, to big cities, small towns, every village, every hamlet, every neighborhood in this nation have risen up in mainly peaceful protests to simply say enough is enough. Enough is enough and black lives matter.
Marc Morial: (01:28:27)
This Justice in Policing Act represents a bold and clear step forward, but an opportunity. An opportunity at a historic time in American history as to whether this nation’s elected representatives will hear the pain, hear the cries, hear the suffering, hear the outrage and realize this is not the time for a diminutus backroom Washington political compromise, that this is a moment for bold and courageous action. The type of action where 20, 40, 60 years hence history will ask, your children we’ll ask, your grandchildren will ask, where did you stand? Where did you stand? This is a moment not of politics. This is not a moment of black or white. This is a moment of morality. It’s a moment of human decency.
Marc Morial: (01:29:42)
This act does a number of things. It bans some practices that we all know have to be banned: Choke holds, no-knock warrants, racial profiling. It creates a multi-tiered accountability system, some through the system of the courts in both civil and criminal proceedings and strengthens the hands of the Justice Department so that it can do its job. It also suggests-
Chairman Nadler: (01:30:15)
Thank you, Mayor Morial.
Marc Morial: (01:30:16)
An accreditation program. Let me just say one last thing, Mr. Chairman, if you’ll indulge me. I’ll go back to what I said earlier. I’m asking this Congress, this body and the United States Senate, to recognize the gravity of this moment and the importance of this time and to stand with the people of this nation to say enough is enough, black lives matter.
Chairman Nadler: (01:30:41)
Thank you, Mayor Morial.
Chairman Nadler: (01:30:45)
We’ve now heard from all the witnesses before the committee. The committee will now stand in recess for 45 minutes for lunch. As a matter of safety, there will be no eating in this room. The committee will reconvene in 45 minutes. The committee is in recess.