Biden calls Chauvin murder conviction a ‘step forward’

▶ Watch Video: Biden says Chauvin guilty verdict “can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America”

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in remarks Tuesday called the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd a step forward toward a more just America, but emphasized that more must be done. Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter.

“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” Harris said, speaking first. “This verdict brings us a step closer and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.”

Harris said injustice isn’t just a “people of color problem,” but a problem for “every American.” She urged Congress to pass legislation reforming policing in America, specifically, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Mr. Biden echoed Harris’ remarks. 

“Today’s verdict is a step forward,” the president said. “Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back. But this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.” 

The president said a guilty verdict is “much too rare” in cases like this, and this particular guilty verdict required a convergence of factors — video footage from a 17-year-old girl, the shock of a nation, “a murder that lasted almost 10 minutes in broad daylight.” 

“We can’t stop here,” Mr. Biden said, insisting that more must be done to ensure a similar tragedy won’t occur again, and urging the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act so he can sign it into law. The president also urged protesters to remain peaceful as cities across the nation prepared for violence.

Mr. Biden and Harris watched the verdict with their staff in the White House’s private dining room. After the verdict was read, Mr. Biden, Harris and first lady Jill Biden spoke with Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, from the Oval Office. According to a video shared by Ben Crump, the lead lawyer for the Floyd family, Mr. Biden told them, “there’s some justice now.” 

Chauvin’s bail was immediately revoked, meaning he will spend his time until sentencing in prison. He will be sentenced in eight weeks. In Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But sentencing guidelines recommend less time for offenders with no criminal history. 

Mr. Biden had been paying close attention to the trial, and spoke with Floyd’s family on Monday, ahead of the verdict, as well. 

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is — I think it’s overwhelming, in my view.” 

After those remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she didn’t think the president would consider that weighing in on the verdict. 

Ahead of the verdict, Vice President Kamala Harris on CNN said even a guilty verdict cannot “take away the pain.” 

“Let’s say there is a guilty verdict on the highest charge, it will not take away the pain of the Floyd family,” the vice president said on CNN. “It will not take away the pain of the communities, all communities, regardless of their color or geographic location, that felt sadness and anger in what they witnessed in that video.”

The legal team representing George Floyd’s family released a statement after the verdict supporting the jury’s verdict, calling the decision “painfully earned justice.” 

“Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world,” said attorney Benjamin Crump. “Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state.”

Floyd’s killing in May sparked worldwide protests and a reckoning on race in the U.S. 

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