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Harris: Country must confront racial injustice after Chauvin verdict

Harris: Country must confront racial injustice after Chauvin verdict
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Vice President Harris on Tuesday urged every American to do their part to confront racial injustice after a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder in the death of George Floyd.

"Today we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it does not take away the pain," Harris said in remarks from the White House after the jury delivered its verdict.

Harris, the first woman of color to serve as vice president, said the decision brings the country "one step closer" to equal justice. She urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would overhaul qualified immunity and outlaw no-knock warrants and chokeholds at the federal level, among other reforms intended to increase police accountability.

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Passage of the bill, which President BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE has said he would sign, would not be "a panacea for every problem," Harris acknowledged, but it would be a lasting part of Floyd's legacy. 

"Here’s the truth about racial injustice: It is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem," Harris said. "It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. And it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential. We are all a part of George Floyd’s legacy. And our job now is to honor it and to honor him."

The jury in Minneapolis earlier Tuesday convicted Chauvin on three counts in Floyd's death, including second- and third-degree murder. Graphic bystander footage of the fatal May 2020 arrest showed Floyd, 46, pleading with Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe as the officer pinned him to the street, his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Floyd's death set off nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Harris and Biden spoke with Floyd's family via telephone after the verdict was handed down. The vice president praised the family as "real leaders" and vowed to work to "make something good come out of this tragedy."

Issues of police violence have persisted even during Chauvin's trial in recent weeks. Just outside Minneapolis, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop earlier this month.

Biden administration officials have said the president is focused on passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to reform the criminal justice system. The bill advanced in the House earlier this year, but its path to passage in the Senate remains muddled. At least 10 Republican senators would have to back the bill, but few, if any, appear prepared to do so.