Posted on April 21, 2021

Biden Says U.S. Needs to Work to End Systemic Racism

Ken Thomas, Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2021

President Biden said the conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in the killing of George Floyd is a “giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” but said the nation needed to stamp out systemic racism.

Mr. Biden, in a Tuesday night address from the White House hours after a jury convicted Derek Chauvin on all three counts against him, said most members of law enforcement “serve their communities honorably.” However, he added, “no one should be above the law, and today’s verdict sends that message. But it’s not enough. We can’t stop here.”

Mr. Biden, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, invoked the final words of Mr. Floyd, a Black man who died after the police officer pressed his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck for several minutes. {snip}

“‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ Those are George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him,” Mr. Biden said. “We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away, we can’t turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country.”


Before his address to the nation, Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris and first lady Jill Biden called Mr. Floyd’s family after the jury’s verdict.

“Nothing is going to make it all better. But at least, God, now there is some justice,” Mr. Biden said in the phone call, a video of which was released by the Floyd family’s attorney, Ben Crump. Mr. Biden said he was thinking of the comments made by Mr. Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, who said after Mr. Floyd’s death that “Daddy is going to change the world.”


Mr. Biden called on Congress to confirm two top Justice Department officials who he has nominated— Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke —and to pass legislation on policing reform named after Mr. Floyd. The two nominees have worked on civil rights issues.


Earlier in the day, Mr. Biden said he was praying for the “right verdict” in the trial of Mr. Chauvin.


Prior, Judge Peter Cahill, the Minnesota judge presiding over Mr. Chauvin’s trial, said he wished politicians would avoid talking about the case after Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) urged people to “get more confrontational” if Mr. Chauvin weren’t convicted. The judge said Ms. Waters’s comments may have given the defense grounds for an appeal.