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. The incident was captured on video that went viral, leading to widespread protests last year.
“‘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.”
During the three-week trial, prosecutors sought to prove that Mr. Chauvin, who is white, acted recklessly when he knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, killing him. The defense countered that Mr. Chauvin was reasonably restraining Mr. Floyd, a Black man, when he died of a sudden heart attack fueled by clogged arteries and drugs.
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