Biden Speaks To Nation After Conviction In Derek Chauvin Trial
NOEL KING, HOST:
After a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on three counts yesterday, President Biden called George Floyd's family, and then the family shared some video of that call.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I'm anxious to see you guys. I really am. And we're going to get a lot more done. We're going to get police - we're going to do a lot.
KING: In 2020, Biden made this part of his campaign. He said racial injustice was a problem and he would do something about it. Now, some activists say he hasn't done enough. Yesterday, the president said that change might be possible.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BIDEN: This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America. Let's also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare.
KING: With me now, Juana Summers, who covers race and justice for the NPR politics team. Good morning, Juana.
JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: Hey there. Good morning.
KING: Both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were on that call with George Floyd's family. What did they say?
SUMMERS: Yeah. So we heard part of that call in the video released by a Floyd family attorney. And the president, in that call, expressed relief at the verdict that former Officer Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts that he was charged with. He expressed that he was anxious to see the family and that they were going to get a lot more done. And that reflects the comments that he made publicly to the nation following that call, where we heard the president talk then about the fear that many Black and brown people have about interactions with law enforcement, that that might mean losing their lives. He also touched on even the trauma that many felt in watching that trial and enduring seeing Floyd's murder play out over and over again.
And I also want to note something that Vice President Harris talked about. She directly spoke in that public statement about the experiences of Black men in America, saying that throughout the course of history, their lives have not been valued as they should.
KING: And to that end, Biden said something last night very explicitly, which is that accountability for Black Americans who've been killed by police - or for their families is just really rare.
SUMMERS: Yeah, and he's correct. It is incredibly rare for police officers to be convicted of murder for killing someone while on duty. And I think it's important to just take a moment and note, over the course of this trial, how many other police killings of Black people that we have covered and talked about these last few weeks.
SUMMERS: There are a couple of factors here to note. Chief among them is the video at the trial's centerpiece. President Biden noted that almost 10 minutes of video showed the world the final moments of Floyd's life, may have played a big impact here in this conviction. He also referenced how rare it is that fellow police officers testified against Chauvin rather than to close the ranks around the former officer. Biden said that while most who wear the badge serve honorably, those who fail to meet that standard have to be held accountable. He described George Floyd's killing as, quote, "a murder in full light of day that exposed injustice." But he also noted that for so many, it felt like it took just so much for the judicial system to deliver basic accountability.
KING: And in the meantime, you have advocates and activists saying that President Biden just has not done enough. Is that fair? What has he done?
SUMMERS: Yeah. So much of the president's focus has been on congressional legislation that is named for Floyd that would overhaul policing. But that bill has been stalled in the Senate. While the president has made racial equity a big central element of his presidency, so far, we have not heard from the White House how or whether the president plans to take additional steps to make sure that this currently stalled policing bill does indeed get to his desk and ultimately become a law.
KING: NPR's Juana Summers.
SUMMERS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.