Friday, March 24, 2023
HomeWorldLegacy of George Floyd not his murder, but lasting police reform: Biden...

Legacy of George Floyd not his murder, but lasting police reform: Biden on Chauvin verdict

The US president expressed optimism that the verdict could mark a 'moment of significant change' for a nation he said had not done enough to confront racial injustice.

Text Size:

Washington: President Joe Biden said the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin was “a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” but called on lawmakers to seize the moment and ensure the legacy of George Floyd was not his murder, but lasting police reform.

“No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message, but it’s not enough,” Biden said Tuesday at the White House. “This takes acknowledging and confronting head-on systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing.”

The president expressed optimism that the verdict could mark a “moment of significant change” for a nation he said had not done enough to confront racial injustice. And Biden said that the exhausted relief expressed by many Americans following a verdict that provided “basic accountability” only underscored the need for progress toward new federal policing legislation.

Outrage over Floyd’s death, on a Minneapolis street last May, prompted a fresh burst of outrage over brutality and racism as graphic video recordings from bystanders were circulated. Floyd’s death and that of other Black people at the hands of the police galvanized nationwide protests that Biden described as the nation’s most significant reckoning with race since the civil rights movement.

The president captured the Democratic nomination – and eventually the White House – in part on the strength of support from Black voters eager to see change from President Donald Trump, who repeatedly voiced support for law enforcement while sharply criticizing demonstrators and other acts of protest, like Black National Football League players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.

Yet since arriving in the White House, Biden has seen little progress toward the sweeping police reforms he promised to pursue. House Democrats passed legislation carrying Floyd’s name that would institute new restrictions on federal authorities prohibiting racial profiling, chokeholds, and no-knock warrants. Yet the bill has languished in the Senate without a clear path to a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority, with Republicans expressing opposition to provisions that would change qualified immunity rules for law enforcement.

Biden said that it should not take “a whole year” to get Congress to act.

Also read: ‘May I know your nationality?’: How China responded to journalist’s question on human rights

‘I Can’t Breathe’

“‘I can’t breathe’ — those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away.”

The White House had been bracing for possible violence had the jury voted to acquit Chauvin, with the president and other members of the administration coordinating with state and local officials in Minnesota. On Tuesday, Biden again called for peace, condemning those who might “seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment” with looting or violence.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke alongside the president, and said the case shows the “the system” needs to be reformed.

“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” Harris said before Biden spoke. “This verdict brings us a step closer. And, the fact is, we still have work to do.”

Earlier, Biden told Floyd’s family that he was relieved by the conviction, and hoped that the verdict would lead to broader change.

‘Start to change’

“Nothing is going to make it all better but at least, God, now, there’s some justice,” Biden told the family in a telephone call their attorney, Benjamin Crump, posted on Twitter.

The world, Biden said, is going to “start to change” now.

“We’re all so relieved,” he said. “We’re going to get a lot more done” on police reform.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the jury “validated what we saw” in video recordings of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he died.

“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice,” she said at a news conference at the Capitol where she was joined by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The remark drew some criticism online.

“Because of you, and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice,” she said.

Senator Raphael Warnock said he was thinking of Floyd’s family.

“Thankfully today they received something that approaches justice,” said Warnock, a Democrat and the first Black senator elected from Georgia. “Obviously, it will not bring George Floyd back. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a turning point in our country, where people who have seen this trauma over and over again, will know that that we have equal protection under the law.”

Lawmakers praise verdict

Democratic Representative Maxine Waters of California, whom Republicans sought to censure for calling on protesters to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin were found not guilty, told reporters: “I’m not celebrating, I’m relieved.”

Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, said the verdict was a “good example of a system working the way that we hope it would.”

“As a former prosecutor, I tend to trust the judgment of juries,” Hawley said. “So I have every expectation that this jury obviously deliberated for a number of hours, were very thoughtful about it.”

Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is Black, said, “The verdict just reinforces that our justice system continues to become more just.”

Scott said he is continuing talks with some Senate Democrats about the police oversight bill as the two parties offered competing versions of how to overhaul law enforcement policies in the country.- Bloomberg

Also read: You know me. Do I look like a radical socialist? — Biden hits back at Trump


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Not sure if im the only one but im terribly missing Trump, who had the guts to take on China and the virus origins.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular