WASHINGTON – President Biden described a guilty verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday as a potential “great step forward on the road to justice in America,” but also called the jury’s decision “far too rare.” . Step for black Americans who have been killed or abused in interactions with the police.
“It was a murder in the light of day and it left the blinders off for the whole world,” said the president of the murder of George Floyd, who died after Mr Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine years, and her death nationwide protests sparked. “To so many, it seems like the judicial system needed all of this to achieve just – only basic – accountability.”
Mr Biden took over the presidency during a national racial settlement and has put his political legacy on a promise of racial equality that includes a policing overhaul. Speaking of Mr. Floyd’s death, he said it was a “wake up call” for the United States.
The president conveyed his remarks to the nation hours after taking the unusual step of weighing the outcome of the chauvinist trial, before the jury came back with a decision, and after telling reporters that he was “praying for the” right verdict. ” “.
Amid a number of police shootings and other violent episodes during the trial, Mr Biden has repeatedly urged Congress to pass an ambitious police overhaul law named after Mr Floyd. On Tuesday night, both he and Vice President Kamala had Harris, who was a senator helping with the writing the statementrepeated this appeal to the legislature.
“Here is the truth about racial injustice,” said Ms. Harris, who took the lectern in front of Mr. Biden. “It’s not just a Black America problem or a color problem for people. It’s a problem for every American. It prevents us from fulfilling the promise of freedom and justice for all. And it keeps our nation from reaching our full potential. “
Just before the verdict was pronounced, the White House canceled a speech Mr Biden was supposed to make about his infrastructure plan so that he could follow the proceedings with Ms. Harris and a group of aides in his private dining room near the Oval Office.
The deliberations of the jury had been followed closely throughout the day: in the minutes before the verdict was pronounced, White House aides sprinted through the west wing, phones in hand, and set up a lectern in the Cross Hall where the President and Vice President would speak later.
Shortly after the verdict was announced, the President spoke on the phone with members of Mr. Floyd’s family.
“We’re all so relieved,” the president told a group of people that included Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer. “I’m excited to see you guys, I really am.”
Mr Biden can partly attribute his political success to how he responded to national protests that sparked after Mr Floyd’s death.
Last June, when President Donald J. Trump was fueling tension on Twitter, calling the protests a result of the “radical left” and threatening to deploy the National Guard, Mr. Biden traveled to Houston with his wife, Jill Biden, to meet with Mr. Floyd’s relatives.
The hour he spent with the Floyd family effectively created a split screen with Mr. Trump supported his war chest and added momentum to his campaign.
“I’m not going to fan the flames of hatred,” said Mr. Biden at the time. “I will try to heal the racial wounds that have plagued this country for a long time – and not use them for political purposes.”
Last week, Mr Biden made an election promise to set up a police oversight commission during his first 100 days in office, and administrative officials have given few details on how far the president will go to combat racism in policing.
Instead, the Biden government adopted the Floyd Act, which aims to combat racial discrimination in police work. However, given the small majority of Senate Democrats and Republican opposition, it is unlikely to become law.
The bill, passed by House Democrats in March, addresses measures that are at the heart of the race and police debate. It would ban chokeholds and lift existing safeguards under qualified immunity, protecting officials accused of violating the constitutional rights of others. A national registry would also be created to prosecute police officers who have committed misconduct.
On Tuesday evening, Mr Biden used the podium and any momentum created by the judgment to re-submit a case to the public for the bill.
“George Floyd was murdered a year ago,” said the president. “There are significant police reform laws under his name. You just heard the Vice President talk about it – she helped write it. “