President Joe Biden marks the anniversary of the police murder of George Floyd on Tuesday by welcoming the African-American man’s family – but without being able to celebrate the hoped-for national police reform.
Floyd’s daughter Gianna, her mother, sister and brothers will be among those in private talks with Biden at the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“The courage and grace of her family, and in particular of her daughter Gianna, have truly remained loyal to the president,” she told reporters. “He can’t wait to hear their views. “
Floyd’s suffocation to death in Minneapolis on May 25 last year and the subsequent conviction of officer Derek Chauvin, who had knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, were seen as defining moments in America’s long struggle for racial equality.
After the murder during Floyd’s arrest outside a store, protests and riots broke out in a country already crackling with the tension of the electoral battle between Biden and President Donald Trump.
Following the April verdict against Chauvin, who faces conviction next month, Biden has sought to build on the political momentum by urging Congress to pass a sweeping police reform bill to time for the first birthday.
Americans must confront the “systemic racism” revealed by Floyd’s murder “head on”, he said.
However, the ambitious deadline comes as only the House passed the bill, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, while the Senate continues to grapple with key details.
The bill seeks to reform what critics say have become increasingly violent and irresponsible police forces across the country.
Opponents argue that the police are unfairly blamed when they simply try to operate in a dangerous and often heavily armed society.
However, Biden and reform supporters claim that an underlying culture of impunity and racism has made incidents like Floyd’s death increasingly common.
– Personal impact on Biden –
Among other measures, the bill would ban potentially lethal restraint techniques used on suspects, such as strangling.
# photo1 It would also end so-called ‘no strike warrants’, when police are allowed to break into a suspect’s house out of the blue – a volatile situation that has led to the accidental murder of a suspect. black woman, Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020.
The most ambitious measure that senators are still debating would be to end current legal protections that block civil lawsuits against police accused of misconduct.
Psaki put a brave face on the chances of success, saying that “the president is still hopeful that he can sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act”.
While nothing is easy crossing the heavily divided Congress, Biden is hopeful that the energy released as a result of Floyd’s death “will help push this legislation through the finish line.”
Confirming that there is still hope for the bill, House Democrat Karen Bass, Senate Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott issued a joint statement on Monday citing “progress.”
“This anniversary is a painful reminder of why we need to make meaningful change. While we still work on our differences on key issues, we continue to move towards a compromise and remain optimistic, ”they said.
For Biden himself, welcoming the Floyds for a “real conversation” will be an emotional moment, Psaki said.
George Floyd’s death was “a day that certainly touched him personally and touched millions of Americans.”
© 2021 AFP