Biden: Chauvin guilty verdict can be a ‘moment of significant change’

Mr Biden was speaking after Chauvin, a former police officer, was found guilty of third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and second-degree unintentional murder.

He had held his knee against George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest that came after Mr Floyd, a black man, was accused of trying to use a fake $20 note.

Mr Floyd’s death, the latest in a long line of black people at the hands of white police officers, sparked protests in the US and across the world against police violence and racism.

Speaking from the White House after the verdicts, Mr Biden said: “This is a time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans. There can never be any safe harbour for hate in America.

“The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years. A tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.

“At our best the American ideal wins out, so we can’t leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done.”

He praised the verdicts as “a step forward”, saying they “could be a moment of significant change” but he also admitted that “such a verdict is also much too rare”.

“For so many people it seems like it took a unique and extraordinary convergence of factors.

“A brave young woman with a smartphone camera, a crowd that was traumatised, traumatised witnesses, a murder that lasts almost 10 minutes in broad daylight for the whole world to see, officers standing up and testifying against a fellow officer instead of just closing ranks – which should be commended, a jury who heard the evidence and carried out their civic duty in the midst of an extraordinary moment under extraordinary pressure.

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

He said most police officers served their communities honourably but the few who failed to meet the standard “must be held accountable and they were today – one was.

“No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message – but it’s not enough, we can’t stop here.

“In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this ever occur.”

He added: “This takes acknowledging, and confronting head-on, systemic racism and the racial disparities that exist in policing and our criminal justice system more broadly.

“State and local government and law enforcement need to step up, and so does the federal government.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman to serve in the role, had spoken before Mr Biden, saying racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of “liberty and justice for all”.

“It is not just a black America problem or a people of colour problem. It is a problem for every American,” she said. “It is holding our nation back from reaching our full potential.”


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