Families of Black people killed by police in recent years, including George Floyd's brother and Michael Brown's father, will be in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night alongside lawmakers advocating for police reform. The push in Congress comes after the recent beating death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police.
The release of video footage, along with the charges of several Memphis police officers involved in Nichols'death and the firing of several employees from the Memphis police and fire departments, has caused national outcry over police brutality and calls for reforms. This includes a renewed effort to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing ActGeorge Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was introduced after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It was twice passed by the US House before it failed to reach the Senate in 2021.
After the State of the Union address, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee plans to reintroduce the legislation and include provisions named after Tyre Nichols that require police officers to intervene when excessive force is used. A divided Congress will make satisfying current demands more difficult.
Before Tuesday's address, families of those killed by police attended a closed roundtable with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. At a press conference outside the US Capitol, Tyre Nichols'mother RowVaughn Wells gathered alongside Philonese Floyd, George Floyd's brother, and Michael Brown Sr, father of Michael Brown, and repeated a plea she and her family made in Memphis, calling for Congress to act. She said that we need to do something to get this resolved, along with Nichols's stepfather, Rodney Wells.
Representative Steven Horsford, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who invited Nichols'parents to the State of the Union, told reporters that representatives expected the president to talk about legislative action during his address. Horsford told reporters we don't want an end to policing. In a statement, Michael Brown Sr praised Bush for introducing the Helping Families Heal Act, which would direct funding for mental health aid for people affected by police violence and the families of those killed by police. No family, no person should have to go through what my family has gone through. My son should be here. He said that we need to change.