President Biden: Floyd verdict marks 'moment of change' but 'it's not enough'

21 April 2021, 05:37 | Updated: 21 April 2021, 08:55

By Maddie Goodfellow

President Joe Biden said the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd "can be a giant step forward" for the nation in the fight against systemic racism.

But he declared that "it's not enough".

Mr Biden spoke from the White House hours after Tuesday's verdict alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, with the pair saying the country's work on racial inequality was far from finished with the verdict.

"We can't stop here," Mr Biden declared.

President Joe Biden said the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd "can be a giant step forward"
President Joe Biden said the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd "can be a giant step forward". Picture: PA

Mr Biden and Ms Harris called on Congress to act swiftly to address policing reform, including by approving a bill named for Mr Floyd, who died with his neck under Chauvin's knee last May.

Beyond that, the president said, the entire country must confront hatred to "change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies".

"'I can't breathe'. Those were George Floyd's last words," Mr Biden said. "We can't let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can't turn away."

Kamala Harris said racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of "liberty and justice for all"
Kamala Harris said racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of "liberty and justice for all". Picture: PA

Ms Harris, the first black woman to serve as vice president, said 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."

"A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice."

READ MORE: ‘This can be a moment of significant change’: World reacts after George Floyd verdict

READ MORE: A timeline of events as Derek Chauvin is found guilty of murder

Mr Biden addressed the nation after telephoning Mr Floyd's family following the verdict, telling them, "We're all so relieved".

He added later that he sought to comfort Mr Floyd's young daughter Gianna, telling her: "Daddy did change the world."

On Tuesday, white ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, who was filmed pinning George Floyd to the ground with his knee, was been found guilty of second degree murder.

The case drew global attention after Mr Floyd's death prompted protests across the world.

It brought renewed focus on how police interact with communities they serve and racial inequalities, sparking emotions ranging from fury to distress.

READ MORE: George Floyd verdict: How did other cases involving US police officers end?

READ MORE: Derek Chauvin trial: 'Today justice has been served'

Chauvin, 45, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with the racially diverse jury asked to conclude if Chauvin's actions were a "substantial causal factor" in Mr Floyd's death.

His trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has drawn global audiences and left the city on edge with the possibility of repeats of the demonstrations and anger that erupted after Mr Floyd's death last year.