Today, US President Joe Biden celebrates the anniversary of the police murder of George Floyd by hosting the family of the African-American man, but without being able to celebrate the hoped-for National Police reform.
Press Secretary Gene Psaki said that Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, and his mother, sister and brothers will be among those who will attend private conversations with Biden at the White House.
“The courage and grace of his family, especially his daughter Gianna, really stuck to the president,” she told reporters. “He is keen to hear their views.”
Psaki said hosting the Floyd family for a “real conversation” would be a touching moment for Biden.
She said that George Floyd’s death was “a day that definitely affected him personally and affected millions of Americans.”
The suffocation of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 of last year and the conviction of the officer, Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, were defining moments in the United States’ long struggle for racial equality.
After Floyd was killed while being arrested outside a store, protests and riots erupted across the country that was already reeling from the tension of the election battle between Biden and President Donald Trump.
In the wake of the April ruling against Chauvin, who will face the ruling next month, Biden has sought to build on political momentum by urging Congress to pass a far-reaching police reform bill in time for the first anniversary.
He declared that the Americans must face the “systemic racism” revealed by the killing of Floyd “head on”.
However, the ambitious deadline comes with only the House of Representatives approving the bill, known as the George Floyd Police Justice Act, while the Senate continues to wrangle over key details.
The bill seeks to reform what critics say is more violent than ever and unaccountable police forces across the country.
Opponents argue that police are unfairly blamed when they are simply trying to operate in a dangerous and often armed society.
However, Biden and supporters of reform argue that the culture of impunity and racism behind it has made incidents such as Floyd’s death increasingly common.
Among other measures, the bill bans the potentially lethal restraint methods used on suspects, such as strangulation.
It would also end so-called “no-strike orders”, when police are allowed to storm a suspect’s home without warning – a volatile situation that resulted in the murder of a black woman, Briona Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. 2020.
The far-reaching measure the Senators are still debating is ending the current legal protections barring civil lawsuits against police accused of misconduct.
Ms. Psaki put a brave face to the chances of success, saying, “The President still very much hopes that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Police Justice Act.”
While there is nothing easily accessible through a deeply divided Congress, Biden hopes that the energy unleashed in the wake of Floyd’s death “will help carry this legislation across the finish line.”