WASHINGTON — President Biden referred to as a responsible verdict within the homicide trial of the previous Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday a potential “giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” however he additionally referred to as the jury’s determination a “much too rare” step for Black Americans who’ve been killed or abused throughout interactions with the police.
“It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,” the president mentioned of the killing of George Floyd, who died after Mr. Chauvin knelt on his neck for greater than 9 minutes, and whose loss of life ignited nationwide protests. “For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver a just — just basic accountability.”
Mr. Biden assumed the presidency throughout a nationwide reckoning over race and has staked his political legacy round a promise of racial equality, which incorporates an overhaul of policing. He has been outspoken about Mr. Floyd’s loss of life, saying it was a “wake-up call” for the United States.
The president delivered his remarks to the nation hours after taking the bizarre step of weighing in on the Chauvin trial’s end result earlier than the jury got here again with a determination, and after telling reporters that he was “praying” for the “right verdict.”
Amid a sequence of current police shootings and different violent episodes over the course of the trial, Mr. Biden has repeatedly referred to as on Congress to go an bold policing overhaul invoice, named for Mr. Floyd. On Tuesday night, each he and Vice President Kamala Harris, who as a senator helped to put in writing the bill, reiterated that plea to lawmakers.
“Here’s the truth about racial injustice,” mentioned Ms. Harris, who took the lectern earlier than Mr. Biden. “It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. And it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”
Just earlier than the decision was introduced, the White House canceled a speech that Mr. Biden was to ship on his infrastructure plan in order that he might watch the proceedings alongside Ms. Harris and a group of aides in his personal eating room close to the Oval Office.
The jury’s deliberations had been carefully tracked all through the day: In the minutes earlier than the decision’s supply, White House aides had been seen sprinting by the West Wing, telephones in hand, and organising a lectern within the Cross Hall, the place the president and vp would later communicate.
Just after the decision was introduced, the president spoke on the cellphone with members of Mr. Floyd’s household.
“We’re all so relieved,” the president mentioned to a group of those who included Ben Crump, the Floyd household’s lawyer. “I’m anxious to see you guys, I really am.”
Mr. Biden can hint his political success, partially, to how he responded to the nationwide protests that rose up after Mr. Floyd’s loss of life.
Last June, as President Donald J. Trump stoked tensions on Twitter, calling the protests a outcome of the “radical left” and threatening to ship within the National Guard, Mr. Biden traveled to Houston together with his spouse, Jill Biden, to satisfy with Mr. Floyd’s family.
The hour he spent with the Floyd household successfully created a split-screen with Mr. Trump that bolstered his war chest and added momentum to his marketing campaign.
“I won’t fan the flames of hate,” Mr. Biden mentioned on the time. “I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.”
Last week, Mr. Biden deserted a marketing campaign promise to ascertain a police oversight fee throughout his first 100 days in workplace, and administration officers have offered few particulars about how far the president will go to fight racism in policing.
Instead, the Biden administration has embraced the Floyd invoice, which might fight racial discrimination in policing however, given the slim majority held by Senate Democrats and the quantity of Republican opposition, it’s unlikely to turn into legislation.
Passed by House Democrats in March, the invoice would handle insurance policies which can be on the heart of the controversy over race and policing. It would ban chokeholds and eradicate present protections underneath certified immunity, which shields officers who’ve been accused of violating others’ constitutional rights. It would additionally create a nationwide registry to trace cops who’ve engaged in misconduct.
On Tuesday night, Mr. Biden used the rostrum, and any momentum brought on by the ruling, to once more current a case to the general public for the invoice.
“George Floyd was murdered a year ago,” the president mentioned. “There is meaningful police reform legislation under his name. You just heard the vice president speak of it — she helped write it.”