George Floyd’s family calls for ‘protect people of color’

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The family of George Floyd on Tuesday called on the US Congress to “protect people of color” by passing a law to reform the police, after a highly symbolic meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House a year after the death of the 40-year-old African American under the knee of a white policeman.

“If you can make federal law to protect a bird, the bald eagle, you can make federal law to protect people of color,” said one of his brothers, Philonise Floyd, referring to the eagle mascot of USA.

A “very constructive” meeting

The meeting with Joe Biden and his vice-president, Kamala Harris, away from the cameras, was “very constructive”, added another of his brothers, Terrence Floyd, even if the law wanted by the president and already passed by the lower house remains blocked in the Senate.

To conclude this historic visit, the family raised their fists and chanted the name of George Floyd, who has become the symbol of victims of police violence in the United States since his death on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis during his arrest by four police officers.

His agony, filmed live, provoked an unprecedented mobilization; his plea (“I can no longer breathe”) turned into a rallying cry against the abuses of the police. Police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for nearly ten minutes, was convicted of murder. His sentence will be announced on June 25.

“Extraordinary courage”

Joe Biden, for his part, hailed the “extraordinary courage” of those close to George Floyd, who have become the spokespersons in the fight against police abuse and the defenders of a great law bearing his name, which should bring about profound changes in the law. police. Using the words of George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, who repeats that her father “changed the world”, Joe Biden assured: “He did it”.

The Floyd family had previously met the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, on Capitol Hill. George Floyd’s relatives then meet with two senators, Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Tim Scott, who are trying to reach a consensus on a text acceptable to both camps.

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Joe Biden “wants the law to be fair, to make sense, and to keep George’s legacy intact,” assured his nephew, Brandon Williams. The family must go at the end of the afternoon to the “Black Lives Matter Plaza”, which has become a place of rallying and memory in the American capital.

But on the legislative front, things are moving slowly. During his first major speech to Congress at the end of April, Joe Biden called on elected officials to adopt the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” by the first anniversary of his death. But it is still under debate in the Senate.

“Changing reality”

The text voted in March by the House of Representatives notably provides for the prohibition of strangulation sockets and aims to limit the broad immunity (“qualified immunity”) enjoyed by American police officers. This modification is the hard point of the negotiations, the Republicans posing as defenders of the legal protections of the police.

“The timetable for the passage of the law will not be kept,” admitted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, while stressing that Joe Biden welcomed the progress underway. “Our nation is waking up to the reality that black Americans live in daily, changing this reality is not an impossible task,” Cory Booker said on Twitter.

Gunshots in Minneapolis

Elected on the image of a man of dialogue, capable of finding compromises with the Republicans, Joe Biden, who was a longtime senator, knows that he plays a large part of his political capital on this issue.

If there is not yet a “big night” at the federal level, states and cities are moving forward. Some localities are attempting experiments to reduce the risk of burrs, for example by disarming the officers in charge of road safety.

Advocates of reform stress the urgency of change. Since George Floyd’s death, several other unarmed African Americans have been injured or killed by police officers. In Minneapolis, the tension remained high Tuesday morning. About twenty shots were fired near the crossroads where George Floyd died, which has become a place of memory, according to a photographer from Agence France-Presse.

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