President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke after the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd convicted him on all three counts, including two for murder.
“It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off the whole world to see the systemic racism… a stain on our nation’s soul,” President Joe Biden says below. Watch the video and read the transcripts
Vice President Kamala Harris
Today we feel a side 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.
Last summer, together with Senator Cory Booker and Representative Karen Bass, I introduced the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. This bill would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities. This bill is part of George Floyd’s legacy. The president and I will continue to urge the Senate to pass this legislation, not as a panacea for every problem, but as a start.
This work is long overdue. America has a long history of systemic racism. Black Americans and Black men in particular have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human. Black men are fathers and brothers and sons and uncles and grandfathers and friends and neighbors. Their lives must be valued in our education system, in our health care system, in our housing system, in our economic system, in our criminal justice system, in our nation. Full stop.
Because of smart phones, so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black Americans have known for generations. The racial injustice that we have fought for generations. That my parents protested in the 1960s. That millions of us Americans of every race protested last summer.
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. 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.
We are all a part of George Floyd’s legacy and our job now is to honor it and to honor him. Thank you.
And now it is my great honor to introduce the President of the United States Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden
Today, a jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May. It was a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to… a stain on our nation’s soul, the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans, profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion black and brown Americans experience every single day. The murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the civil rights here in the 60’s — protests that unified people of every race and generation in peace and with purpose to say enough enough enough of this senseless killing.
Today’s verdict is a step forward. I just spoke with the governor of Minnesota, thanked him for the close work with his team. I also spoke with George Floyd’s family again, remarkable family of extraordinary courage. Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back. But this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.
Let’s also be clear such a verdict is also much too rare for so many people. Seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors. A brave young woman with a smart phone camera, a crowd that was traumatized, traumatized witnesses. A murder that lasted almost 10 minutes in broad daylight, problem for the whole world to see. Officers standing up and testifying against a fellow officer instead of just closing ranks, which should be commended. A jury who heard the evidence carried out their civic duty in the midst of extraordinary moments under extraordinary pressure for so many. It feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver a just, basic accountability.
We saw how traumatic and exhausting just watching the trial was for so many people. Think about those who are your listening, think about how traumatic was for you. You weren’t there, you didn’t know any of the people. But it was difficult, especially for the witnesses who had to relive that day It’s a trauma on top of the fear. So many people of color live with every day when they go to sleep at night and pray for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
Again, as we saw in this trial from the fellow police officers who testified, most men and women to wear the badge, serve their communities honorably. But those few who failed to meet that standard must be held accountable and they were today. One was. No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message.
But it’s 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 will ever happen and occur again to ensure that black and brown people or anyone. So they don’t fear the interactions of law enforcement, that they don’t have to wake up knowing that they can lose their very life in the course of just living their life; they don’t have to worry about whether their sons or daughters will come home after a grocery store run. They’re just walking down the street or driving the car, playing in the park or just sleeping at home.
And this takes acknowledging and confronting head on systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing and in our criminal justice system more broadly. You know, state and local government and law enforcement need to step up. But so does the federal government. That’s why I’ve appointed the leadership of the Justice Department that I have that is fully committed to restoring trust between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect. I have complete confidence in the attorney general general, Merrick Garland’ss leadership and commitment. I’ve also nominated two key Justice Department Nominees, Benita Gupta and Kristin Clark are eminently qualified, highly respected lawyers who have spent their entire careers fighting to advance racial equity and justice. Benita and Kristen have the experience and the skill necessary to advance our Administration’s priorities to root out unconstitutional policing and reform our criminal justice system, and they deserve to be confirmed.
We also need Congress to act. George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name. You just heard the vice president speak of it. She helped write it. Legislation to tackle systemic misconduct and police departments, to restore trust between law enforcement and the people that are entrusted to serve and protect. But it shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done. My conversations with the Floyd family. I spoke to them again today. I assure that we’re going to continue to fight for the passage of Georgia Floyd Justice and Policing act so we can, I can sign into law as quickly as possible. There’s more to do.
Finally, it’s the work we do every day to change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies. That’s the work we have to only then well, full justice and full equality delivered to all Americans. And that’s what I just discussed with the Floyd family. A guilty verdict does not bring back George, 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. Also spoke to…his young daughter… At George’s funeral, I told her how brave I thought she was. I sort of knelt down to hold her hand. She said, Daddy’s looking down on you. He’s so proud. She said to me then — I’ll never forget it – ‘ Daddy changed the world.’ I told her this afternoon: Daddy did change the world.
Let that be his legacy, A legacy of peace, not violence, of justice. Peaceful expression of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate. Violent protest is no.t And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment, agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice, who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, fan the flames of hate and division,do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice. We can’t let them succeed. This is a time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans, but can never be any safe harbor for hate.
In America I said it many times, the battle for soul of this nation has been constant push and pull for more than 240 years. A tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality, racism is long torn us apart. At our best, the American ideal wins out. So we can’t leave this moment or look away, thinking our work is done. We have to look at it. We have to we look as we did for those nine minutes and 29 seconds we have to listen. I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Those are George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country. It’s my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy. God bless you! May. God bless the George Floyd and his family. Thank you for taking the time to be here. This can be a moment of significant change.