President Biden and the legal team for George Floyd’s family urged Congress to pass the Democrats’ criminal-justice reform bill, after a jury declared former officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder in Floyd’s death.
“This can be a moment of significant change,” Biden said. Biden added that in discussions with Floyd’s family, “I assured them we’re going to continue to fight for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act so I can sign the law as quickly as possible.”
Chauvin was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, in a verdict delivered on Wednesday. Floyd’s legal team and members of his family called to pass the criminal-justice-reform bill in a press conference shortly after the verdict was announced.
“This is not a case against every officer,” attorney Chris Stewart said at a press conference. “My life was saved by two law-enforcement officers years ago, so I will never throw every cop under the bus. But we will put more cops in jail when you kill someone for no reason, just because they’re black.”
Stewart added, “We can find a unifying purpose between law enforcement and the African-American community — by changes, starting with the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.”
The bill, sponsored by Representative Karen Bass (D., Calif.), seeks to lower the standard needed to prosecute and convict police officers of alleged misconduct, and would eliminate officers’ qualified immunity that shields them from civil suits. The Democrat-controlled House passed the legislation 236–181 in June 2020, but was not advanced in the Senate, where Republicans held a majority until January 2021.
Attorney Tony Romanucci as well as Floyd’s brother, Rodney Floyd, joined Stewart’s call for the bill to be passed.
“Make no mistake: we are not done,” Romanucci said. The Floyd police-reform bill “must pass the Senate. We now know that today, police can and will be held accountable for needless death.”
Rodney Floyd stated that “for George, this fight is not over. We’re going to stand here together, we’re going to try to get this George Floyd act passed. . . . We’re going to keep pressure on the Senate.”
The Senate is currently tied 50–50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. It is unclear if Democrats will be able to garner support from ten Republican senators needed to pass the legislation without threat of a filibuster.
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