- "You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd,"
- UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet, who led the session, criticized the brutality in Floyd’s murder.
- The debate took place without a representative from the US, since the country pulled out of the council two years ago and does not attend its meetings.
George Floyd’s brother Philonise has appealed to the United Nations to investigate systematic racism in the United States and the killing of black people by police. Philonise said this on Wednesday during a debate convened by African countries at the UN Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd,” Philonise said. “I am asking you to help him. I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to help us. Black people in America.” He added, “the way you saw my brother tortured and murdered on camera is the way black people are treated by police in America.”
He also called on the UN to investigate violence by police on peaceful protesters. “When people dared to raise their voice and protest for my brother they were tear-gassed, ran over by police vehicles,” Philonise said. “My brother, George Floyd, is one of the many black men and women that have been murdered by police in recent years. The sad truth is that the case is not unique,” he continued.
UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet, who led the session, criticized the brutality in Floyd’s murder. “We should go beyond existing recommendations. We need to build on what has worked from enormous body of work and experience we already have,” the former Chilean President told the diplomats who had assembled.
“Time is of essence. Patience has run out. Black lives matter. Indegenous lives matter. Their life with people of color matter. All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights,” she added. The office of the Human Rights Commissioner has pursued a number of international commissions of inquiry over the past three decades.
The debate took place without a representative from the US, since the country pulled out of the council two years ago and does not attend its meetings. However, the US representative in Geneva, Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, said the country is committed in addressing he matter.
“The United States recognizes and is committed to addressing its shortcomings, including racial discrimination, and injustices that stem from such discrimination, that persist in our society,” Bremberg said. “Every democracy faces challenges — the difference is how we deal with them.”
Floyd died on May 25 after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pinned him down for eight minutes and 46 seconds. His death sparked anti-racism protests across all US cities and the world at large.
In a horrifying video, Chauvin pinned Floyd down with his knee as he lay on the ground during an arrest. The video footage was taken by a witness and was sent on social media. It showed Floyd helpless, asking the police not to kill him. Floyd said several times, “I can’t breathe!”
The officer is then heard telling him to relax he continues to pin him down. “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” Floyd cries out. “[I need] water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. . . I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.” In the footage witnesses are heard pleading with the police to let go the man but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Floyd was buried in Houston amid calls for racial justice in the US by speakers during his funeral service. The officers involved in his arrest were fired, arrested, and charged.
Floyd’s case is similar to Eric Garner’s, a black man who was unarmed and was killed in 2014 in New York. Garner was placed in a police chokehold, and pleaded for his life. Garner uttered the same phrase as Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” The police officer involved in Garner’s case was fired after the investigations were completed.