“We still have work to do,” said Harris, who spoke first on Tuesday evening. “We still must reform the system.”
“America has a long history of systemic racism,” Harris added, arguing that it’s “holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”
Biden: “The 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.” pic.twitter.com/jwzNM9YTM1
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 20, 2021
Systemic racism “is a stain of our nation’s soul, the knee on the neck of the nation’s black Americans,” argued Biden. Protests touched off by Floyd’s death in May last year, he said, “unified people of every race and generation in peace and purpose to say enough.”
“This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.”
Biden described the verdict as “much too rare” and owing to “a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors,” from the incident being caught on cell phone cameras to police officers testifying against their colleague, and a jury “under extraordinary pressure,” to deliver “just basic accountability.”
“No one should be above the law, and today’s verdict sends that message, but it’s not enough. We can’t stop here,” Biden said.
Both he and Harris used the occasion to call on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, proposed by Harris last year, while she was still a senator from California. Biden also pointed out the importance of “the work we do every day to change hearts and minds.”
The president also used the occasion to demand the Senate confirm Vanita Gupta as associate Attorney General and Kristen Clarke to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, because they “spent entire lives fighting for racial equity.”
Earlier in the day, the president said he had phoned Floyd’s family as the jury began deliberating on Monday, and said he prayed for the “right verdict” in the case.
Towards the end of his remarks, Biden warned that “violent protest” will not be tolerated.
“There are those who’ll 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, who will do everything in power to stop this nation’s march towards racial justice. We can’t let them succeed,” he said. “There can never be any safe harbor for hate in America.”
“We can’t let them succeed,” President Biden says about people “who seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment” to cause violence. pic.twitter.com/SCqrnIbPCo
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 20, 2021
Citing Floyd’s alleged last words, “I can’t breathe,” Biden said that this was “a chance to change the trajectory of this country.”
Instead of his customary parting words – wishing divine blessing on US troops – Biden ended his remarks with “may God bless George Floyd and his family,” before adding, “This can be a moment of significant change.”
Header: People hold placards with paintings of George Floyd, Daunte Wright and Philando Castile after the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., April 20, 2021. © REUTERS/Carlos Barria