U.S. President Joe Biden said the guilty verdict in the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is a “step forward,” but added that there is still work to be done in order to address racial injustice in America.
Biden made the comments from Washington just hours after Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a Black man.
Chauvin is now facing up to 40 years in federal prison.
Biden said verdicts like those delivered by the Minnesota jury are “far too rare.”
“It’s not enough,” Biden said. “We can’t stop here.”
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds during an arrest outside of a convenience store.
The arrest was captured on video by a bystander.
In the video, Floyd can be heard pleading for his life, saying: “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and systemic racism.
Biden said in order to move forward, America must acknowledge and confront the racism embedded in its institutions.
“We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood of tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again,” he said.
Biden said state and local law enforcement needs to “step up,” but said the federal government must act, too.
He pointed to a bill, called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to combat misconduct, excessive force and racial bias in policing.
He said he promised Floyd’s family that he will continue to fight to see the act is sworn into law, adding “it shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done.”
Biden said he will sign it into law, “as quickly as possible.”
“The guilty verdict does not bring back George, but through the family’s pain they’re finding purpose so George’s legacy will not just be about his death, but what we must do in his memory,” the president said.
Vice President Kamala Harris urged the U.S. Senate to pass the act, adding that racial injustice is “holding our nation back from reaching our full potential.”
“It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. it is a problem for every American,” she said.
“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” she continued.
Biden called on the country to “come together” to end systemic racism.
“This can be a moment of significant change.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Biden spoke with Floyd’s family, saying he and Harris were “relieved” by the verdict.
The family’s attorney posted a video of the phone call on Twitter.
In the video, Biden can be heard telling the family they are “incredible,” and that “the change starts now.”