President Joe Biden on Tuesday called the guilty verdict in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd "a giant step" toward justice in the United States.
Derek Chauvin, a white officer, was convicted after kneeling for more than nine minutes on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, during an arrest last May that set off worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
The 12-member jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty of all three charges – second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter – after considering three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses.
"It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see," Biden said in nationally televised remarks. "Systemic racism is a stain on the nation's soul."
The Democratic president said the protests seen in the US after Floyd's killing were something the nation had not witnessed since the civil rights movement and had unified people of different races.
"Nothing can ever bring their brother and father back," he said of the Floyd family, "but this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America."
No one should be above the law.Today’s verdict sends that message, but it is not enough. We can’t stop here.In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this ever occur.— President Biden (@POTUS) April 20, 2021
The statement Biden delivered was pre-written and updated, and will contain themes about healing and justice, an aide said.
US Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case, noting that the country still has work to do.
"Today we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer – and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system," Harris said.After the verdict stating that Chauvin was convicted on Tuesday of all three charges of murder and manslaughter in the deadly arrest of George Floyd, Biden and Harris called Floyd's family to express support, Floyd's family attorney Ben Crump said on Twitter.
Harris also advocated for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act aimed at preventing police misconduct. She said the Biden administration would continue to urge the Senate to pass this legislation.
"This bill would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities," she said of the bill she introduced last summer when she was a senator. "This bill is a part of George Floyd's legacy."
"Here's the truth about racial injustice: It is not just a Black America problem or a people-of-color problem – it is a problem for every American."
"We are all a part of George Floyd's legacy and our job now is to honor it and honor him," Harris said.
President Biden and VP Harris call the Floyd family after the GUILTY verdict! Thank you @POTUS & @VP for your support! We hope that we can count on you for the police reform we NEED in America! ✊ pic.twitter.com/cg4V2D5tlI— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 20, 2021
Such a decision could be considered a milestone in the fraught racial history of the United States and a rebuke of law enforcement's treatment of Black Americans.
"We're going to try to leave here today knowing that America is a better country," said Crump speaking from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "America, let's pause for a moment to proclaim this historical moment not just for the legacy of George Floyd, but for the legacy of America.
"America, let's frame this moment as a moment where we finally are getting close to living up to our Declaration of Independence," Crump added.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally, that they're endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that amongst them are life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Crump said, before adding, "America, that means all of us. That means Black people. That means Hispanic people. That means Native people. That means Asian people. That means all of us, America.
"We frame this moment for all of us, not just for George Floyd," he said. "This is a victory for those who champion humanity over inhumanity, those who champion justice over injustice, those who champion morals over immorality. America, let's lean into this moment."
Former President Barack Obama, the first and only black president in US history, also reacted to the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case, releasing a joint statement along with his wife, Michelle Obama.
Reuters contributed to this report.Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied. pic.twitter.com/mihZQHqACV— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 20, 2021