Joe Biden: Derek Chauvin guilty verdict a ‘step forward’


President Biden said Tuesday that a jury’s guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial over the death of George Floyd is a “step forward” but that the United States still has a ways to go in confronting the country’s “systemic racism.”

“Today’s verdict is a step forward,” Mr. Biden said in a speech from the White House. “No one should be above the law and today’s verdict send that message. But it’s not enough. We can’t stop here.”

Earlier Tuesday, a Minnesota jury found Mr. Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder; third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.

“It was a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism … that’s a stain on our nation’s soul,” Mr. Biden said, calling for Americans to come together.

Mr. Biden re-upped a call to get House-passed policing overhaul legislation named after Floyd through the Senate.

“[A] guilty verdict does not bring back George,” the president said. “But through the family’s pain, they’re finding purpose so George’s legacy will not be just about his death, but about what we must do in his memory.”

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke before Mr. Biden.

“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,” Ms. Harris said.

She said the policing bill will be part of Floyd’s “legacy.”

The legislation, which bars officers from using chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants, among other provisions, does not currently have the 60 votes needed to thwart a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris watched the verdict with staff in the White House.

After the verdict, Mr. Biden spoke with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris and First Lady Jill Biden also spoke by phone with Floyd’s family from the Oval Office.

“Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least, God — now there’s some justice,” Mr. Biden told the family. “We’re all so relieved.”

Earlier Tuesday, the president said in the Oval Office that he was praying for the “right verdict” in the trial.

“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is — I think it’s overwhelming, in my view,” Mr. Biden had said. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had declined to elaborate on what Mr. Biden meant by “overwhelming” and said the comments were not getting ahead of the verdict.

Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is White, knelt on the neck of Floyd, who is Black, for approximately nine minutes last year. Officers had stopped Floyd on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Floyd’s death last May had sparked a wave of racial justice protests, some of which escalated into looting and rioting.

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