Dwell Updates: Trial on George Floyd’s Killing: NPR
The Minneapolis area is preparing for a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd. A verdict is expected this week. Scott Olson / Getty Images Hide caption
Scott Olson / Getty Images
Scott Olson / Getty Images
When Joe Biden offered his condolences to George Floyd’s family in a video address played at Floyd’s memorial service last year, he asked a question.
“Why do too many black Americans in this nation wake up knowing they could lose their lives in the course of their lives?” Asked Biden.
In this speech, Biden, then his party’s alleged presidential candidate, called on the country to use Floyd’s death as a call to action to combat systemic racism.
“Now is the time for racial justice. That is the answer we have to give our children when they ask why,” Biden said in the video. “Because if there is justice for George Floyd, we will really be on the road to racial justice in America.”
As the jury advises in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with Floyd’s death, the threatened verdict could be the first major race and policing hotspot in Biden’s presidency.
Completing the trial could also add to a moment of intense pain over the police killing in the United States. Biden is expected to speak after the verdict, and the president may seek to heal the soul of a divided nation. But it also seems to be trapped in a double bond.
Biden has pledged to help end the epidemic of black men killed by the police, but aside from the law named for Floyd to overhaul the police that is currently bogged down in Congress, Biden doesn’t seem to have a clear agenda yet to get around fulfilling his promise of real change in policing in color communities. At the same time, the president has presented himself as an ally of the law enforcement community.
“The question for those in power is not how much more talk or how much more we need to get together while blacks are being killed,” said Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change. “And there are always questions about whether or not there is a level of accountability for it. This is no time for further discussion. This is a time for action.”
Biden met with members of the Black Caucus of Congress in the Oval Office last week after prosecutors dropped their case in Chauvin’s Minneapolis trial. That meeting also came amid protests and outcry after a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, killed a black man during a traffic obstruction.
Police officers have said then-officer Kim Potter, who has since resigned, mistaken her pistol for a taser when she fatally shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, last week.
Prior to meeting the black lawmakers, Biden described Wright’s assassination as “that godly shootout” that led to Wright’s death, as well as the uncertain verdict in the trial of Floyd’s death.
“But we’re in business, we’re all meeting today to make real change,” he said.
President Biden will meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Oval Office of the White House on April 13. Patrick Semansky / AP hide the caption
Patrick Semansky / AP
Patrick Semansky / AP
Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., Was one of the lawmakers at that meeting, and she later said that the president is constantly weighing the implications of his words.
“We were made very aware of these issues in the Black Community, but it was very, very powerful and hopeful for him to acknowledge and share them with us,” she said.
Throughout his career, Biden has spoken heavily about race and racism in America. Jim Clyburn, DS.C. described the president’s clarity as one thing that drew him to Biden.
“He has made suggestions that may not go as far as I would put them, but he is really doing things that demonstrate the move forward on some very controversial issues.” Said Clyburn. “I think he’s been clearly spoken when it comes to things like voting rights and voting rights.”
But the way Biden initially spoke about the Wright assassination raised questions. Referring first to the body camera footage showing the final minutes of Wright’s life, Biden said it was still a question of whether the shooting was an accident.
“That has yet to be determined through a comprehensive investigation,” said Biden. “But in the meantime I want to make it clear again: There is absolutely no justification – none – for looting, no justification for violence.”
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DN.Y., who publicly pushed Biden’s response back, said it “tears the very fabric of my soul … because instinct is to assume that the person who was killed did something wrong, and possibly does . ” deserve it. “
Bowman said Biden and other white leaders need to show empathy to understand how blacks feel when they see another black person being killed by the police.
“We need to see the same urgency and feel the same urgency from the president when it comes to black lives and from all of us as elected officials, as leaders,” Bowman said. “Do we value black life more than property?”
The video of Chauvin with his knee to Floyd’s neck in the last moments of his life sparked protests around the world and sparked a racist reckoning that changed the course of the presidential campaign. Biden was elected after identifying systemic racism as one of the nation’s four major crises. And voters put him in office alongside Kamala Harris, the nation’s first black and first Asian American female vice president.
“What we need to hear from President Biden and Vice President Harris is that they will do everything in their power to address this pressing crisis in this country and that this will be a key organizational push,” said Aimee Allison, Founder of she the people.
She warned that many people who voted for Biden and Democrats in 2020 may not do so again unless the White House addresses these issues directly.
“I think at this point where the constant flood and news of the violence and dehumanization of blacks, browns, by government employees – the police – feels that something needs to be done,” she said.
But Biden has also made a name for himself as an ally of the police, putting him under pressure on two fronts.
Jim Pasco, the executive director of the fraternal police force, has known Biden since his tenure as a senator. Pasco has met with administrative officials despite the fraternal police presence backing former President Donald Trump in the November election.
“He still has enough credibility in the law enforcement community, and I believe credibility in the civil rights community, to ideally position him to at least harness the potential for success to bring everyone together on issues,” said Pasco of Biden.
Lawyer and activist Derecka Purnell sees Biden’s relationship with law enforcement and commitment to police funding as the core of the problem.
“Joe Biden’s pledge to give more money and resources to the police force in 2020 during the biggest protests in history that happened to be directed against police violence is less given his long legacy and commitment to funding a break, rather than a continuity and support of various policies that are detrimental to blacks in this country, “Purnell said.