President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday night after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.
“No one should be above the law,” Biden said. “And today’s verdict sends that message. But it’s not enough.”
He also called the killing of Floyd, “a murder in full light of day,” saying “it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the Vice President just referred to.”
The president called on state and local governments to do more to reform policing to reduce killings by law enforcement.
“We also need Congress to act,” he said, calling for the passage of legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, to address “systemic misconduct” in police departments.
He also warned against “agitators and extremists” exploiting the events to create further civil unrest. “We can’t let them to succeed. This is a time for this country to come together.”
Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation immediately after Biden. “America has a long history of systemic racism,” she said. “Black Americans, and Black men in particular, have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human.”
“Because of smartphones, so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black Americans have known for generations,” she added. “It is not just a Black America problem, or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American… and it is holding our nation back.”
Biden, Harris, and First Lady Jill Biden called Floyd’s family after the verdict was announced on Tuesday afternoon.
“Nothing’s going to make it all better, but at least now there’s some justice,” Biden told the family earlier in the evening. “You’re an incredible family, I wish I was there to put my arms around you … we’re all so relieved.”
Harris said she was “so grateful for the entire family, for your courage, your commitment, your strength.”
“In George’s name and memory, we’re going to make sure that his legacy is intact and history will look back on this moment and know that it was an inflection moment,” she said. “We’re going to make something good come out of this tragedy, okay?”
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
Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges against him: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. The verdict came after a closely-watched three-week trial and two days of deliberation. Chauvin will be sentenced in the coming weeks and faces up to 40 years in prison.
Crowds gathered in Minneapolis erupted in cheers and shouts of “justice!” as the verdict was read aloud by the judge on Tuesday afternoon.
Biden faced criticism for publicly weighing in on Chauvin’s trial before the verdict was reached earlier this week. But the president defended his comments by saying he’d waited until the jury was sequestered and therefore couldn’t be influenced by his remarks.
The president told reporters on Tuesday that he was “praying for the right verdict” in Chauvin’s trial and said the “evidence is overwhelming.” And he said he had talked with Floyd’s family and expressed sympathy and support over the phone.
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility, no matter what that verdict is,” Biden went on.
President Biden called George Floyd’s family to express his support, saying that he was praying for the “right verdict” in Derek Chauvin’s trial. He defended his decision to weigh in on an unresolved trial, saying he waited until the jury was sequestered. https://t.co/ZWPFtNw69B pic.twitter.com/6Q1yzk7y9C
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 20, 2021