Apr 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Chauvin verdict a "giant step towards justice"

President Biden addressed the country on Tuesday, saying "we must not turn away" in the fight for racial justice after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges.

Driving the news: Chauvin was convicted late Tuesday afternoon on charges of second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

What he's saying: Biden called the verdict a "giant step towards justice in America."

  • He added that Floyd's killing "was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see."
  • "Systematic racism is a stain on our nation's soul: the knee on the neck ... the pain, the exhaustion Black and brown Americans experience every single day."
  • "Let's also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare," the president noted.

Biden added that the Chauvin case demonstrated how challenging it is for "the judicial system to deliver basic accountability."

The president warned "agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice" against tarnishing Floyd's legacy.

What she's saying: "Here is the truth about racial injustice: it is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem," Vice President Harris said before Biden spoke. "It is a problem for every American."

"Black men, in particular, have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human. Their lives must be valued in — our nation. Full stop."
— Vice President Harris

The big picture: Biden and Harris watched the verdict with staff in the Private Dining Room, according to the White House. The president, vice president and first lady also spoke with Philonise Floyd, brother of the late George Floyd, from the Oval Office, telling the family "we're going to stay at it [policing legislation] until we get it done."

The bottom line: "No one should be above the law. Today's verdict sends that message, but it's not enough," Biden said, urging Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to reform law enforcement.

  • "We can't leave this moment thinking our work is done. We have to look at those 9 minutes and 29 seconds; we have to listen," he said. "'I can't breathe' — those were George Floyd's last words. We can't let those words die with him."
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