Biden after verdict: 'We can't stop here'

·2-min read

US President Joe Biden has called the guilty verdict in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd "a giant step" toward justice in the United States.

Derek Chauvin, a white officer, was convicted after kneeling for more than nine minutes on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, during an arrest last May. Video of the incident set off worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

The 12-member jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty of all three charges - second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter - after considering three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses.

"It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see," Biden said in nationally televised remarks on Tuesday. "Systemic racism is a stain on the nation's soul."

"It's not enough," Biden said of the verdict. "We can't stop here."

The Democratic president said the protests seen in the United States after Floyd's killing were something the nation had not witnessed since the civil rights movement and had unified people of different races.

"Nothing can ever bring their brother and father back," he said of the Floyd family, "but this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America."

Biden also praised the "brave young woman" who recorded Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, and cited the police officers who testified for the prosecution in the case "instead of closing ranks".

"For so many," Biden said, "it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver basic accountability."

Vice-President Kamala Harris also delivered remarks, urging the US Senate to pass the "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act", which was approved by the US House of Representatives and aims to stop aggressive law enforcement tactics that have targeted African Americans and other minorities.

"A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer," said Harris, the first black person, first Asian American and first woman to be vice-president.

Earlier in the day, Biden said he was praying for the "right verdict", a comment that sparked criticism. He said he would not have made such a comment if the jury was not sequestered.

Biden and Harris watched the verdict with staff in the president's dining room. Afterward, Biden spoke with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, and then Biden, Harris and first lady Jill Biden spoke with Floyd's younger brother Philonise Floyd from the Oval Office.

Reuters with AP