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Members of the Congressional Black Caucus re-launched their calls for justice for victims of police violence and called for sweeping White House-backed police reform legislation following the guilty verdicts of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
“This is only the first step,” caucus chair Joyce Beatty said on Tuesday, surrounded by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“We clearly know that justice has been delayed,” she said. “We will continue to say all the names, we will continuously fight for all those who died and were injured without reason by the police… The mothers, the families, the children who shed tears today because that the verdict will not bring their family members back.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who also stood alongside lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon after the verdict, said she spoke to Mr Floyd’s family to say ‘thank you, God bless you, for your grace and your dignity ”.
“They were looking for justice then, and now they see this giant leap. But as my colleagues have said, it is not over, ”she said. “Thank goodness the jury validated what we saw.”
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. He could face up to 40 years for second degree murder and 25 years for third degree murder.
The verdict follows three weeks of testimony and nine hours of deliberation nearly a year after Mr Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, captured in a painful video and galvanizing an international protest movement to hold police accountable for the murders of blacks.
A 12-person jury heard from 45 witnesses in total, including 38 from the prosecution and seven from the defense.
Of the 12 jurors, six are white, four are black and two are multiracial.
Hennepin County medical examiner Dr Andrew Baker, who performed the official autopsy, said “subdual law enforcement, restraint and compression of the neck” were the main causes of his death, made worse. by existing heart disease and drug use.
US Representative Cori Bush – first-year congressman and organizer of Black Lives Matter – said Tuesday’s verdict “is the triggering of the lock” to “open the door and save lives” from police violence.
“We can call it murder now,” she said. “It was the responsibility but it was not justice. Justice for us is saving lives.
Joe Biden’s administration is backing passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – which could face stiff opposition from Republicans in the Senate.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that “the president is of the opinion that there are outdated reforms needed that should be put in place, that there is a responsibility. that must happen, that the loss of life is far too high, that these families are suffering across the country, the black community is exhausted by the persistent threats it feels.
The House of Representatives passed a version of the George Floyd bill last month without any Republican support on a 220-212 vote. A similar bill passed in 2020 but languishes in a then GOP-controlled Senate.
The legislation would seek to revise “qualified immunity” policies, change the threshold for authorizing the use of force, ban federal police strangles, ban no-cut warrants in military cases. federal drugs and to create a national registry of police misconduct under the auspices. of the Ministry of Justice, among other reforms. It does not “defund” the police services.
Lawmakers are considering bipartisan compromise legislation in the Senate, where it will take 60 votes to pass. Democrats hold 50 seats.
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