WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation Tuesday evening after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of all charges in the death of George Floyd.
“Today’s verdict is a step forward,” said Biden.
However, the president said it’s not enough without change in policing laws.
“This systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul. The knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans,” said Biden.
Biden spoke about his conversation with the Floyd family and recounted his conversations with Floyd’s daughter who he also spoke to at Floyd’s funeral.
“She said to me then, I’ll never forget it, ‘Daddy changed the world.’ And I told her this afternoon daddy did change the world,” said Biden.
Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice president, said racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
“It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. it is a problem for every American,” she said. “It is holding our nation back from reaching our full potential.”
“A measure of justice is not the same as equal justice,” said Harris.
Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was declared dead after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes on May 25. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store. His death sparked protests and civil unrest in Minneapolis and across the U.S. over police brutality.
The second-degree murder count, the most serious charge, carries up to 40 years in prison.
Biden and Harris also called for the Senate to pass the George Floyd Policing Act which would include the banning of chokeholds at the federal level, ending qualified immunity, and creating a national police misconduct registry so fired officers can’t be hired at another department.
“George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There is meaningful police reform legislation in his name…It shouldn’t take a year to get this done,” said Biden.
Biden emphasized throughout his speech that systemic reform is necessary and this verdict must only be the beginning of change.
“George Floyd’s last words were “I can’t breathe.” We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. This can be a moment of significant change.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report