Biden and Harris set political stage for police reform after Chauvin verdict
The Biden-Harris administration has its eyes set on police reform that would establish new federal standards with stiff penalties for officers who show disregard for human life
President Joe Biden called the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin “a moment of significant change” during his Tuesday address in the Cross Hall of the White House.
“No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message. But we can’t stop here,” Biden told the nation. The president further cautioned: “The guilty verdict does not bring back George [Floyd], but through the family’s pain, they’re finding purpose.”
Now the administration has its eyes set on police reform that would establish new federal standards with stiff penalties for officers who show disregard for human life. But the question remains, will that be enough of an incentive to weed out bad policing?
Part of the plan would end qualified immunity allowing officers to be criminally liable for deadly and unauthorized force.
Vice President Kamala Harris, in her address to the nation before introducing President Biden, discussed her efforts as a former U.S. senator when she introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“This bill is part of George Floyd’s legacy. The president and I will continue to urge the Senate to pass this legislation, not as a panacea for every problem but as a start,” said Harris.
The legislation would give the U.S. attorney general authority to develop and recommend a set of uniform standards for all state and local departments, as well as review departments’ accreditation standards. It also calls for mandatory use of body cameras by police.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a sweeping “pattern or practice” investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, which will examine whether there is a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.
Vice President Harris said, during her address, “this verdict brings us a step closer” to reform the system. She also acknowledged the long-felt pain of Black America, particularly Black men in the wake of the Chavin verdict on Tuesday.
“This work is long overdue,” Vice President Harris added. Black Americans, she said, have been historically treated “less than human.”
Accounts of deadly policing date back 402 years ago to the inception of slavery in America with slave patrols during slavery then in the Jim Crow era to Civil Rights to today.
During his Tuesday address, President Biden reflected upon Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, adding, “Systemic racism is the stain on the nation’s soul.”
“A murder that lasted almost ten minutes for the world to see,” according to the president, has given the momentum for change to come.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden along with Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to the family of George Floyd by phone from the Oval Office soon after the guilty verdict. President Biden in his conversation said he wished he was there to put his arms around the family. During that same call, Vice President Harris assured the family that “something good is going to come out of this tragedy.”
According to White House pool reports, the president and the vice president watched the verdict with staff in the president’s private dining room.
Following the announcement of the verdict, President Biden spoke with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.
What a difference a few months makes after the ousting of former President Donald Trump, who infamously called Black NFL players “sons of bitches” after they brought helped bring national attention to the issue of deadly police violence against Black Americans.
Now the country sees its first willingness to hold law enforcement officers accountable for this very reason.
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