After controversially weighing in on the case prior to Tuesday’s verdict announcement, President Joe Biden offered a subsequent public statement welcoming the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Although he struck a hopeful tone in the wake of the jury’s guilty verdicts, some Americans believed his reference to “systemic racism” carried some disturbing implications.
“In full light of day”
“Today, a jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last May,” the president said.
Going on to describe the incident as “a murder in full light of day,” Biden cited the perceived lasting impact of the case across American and beyond.
“It ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to,” he said during a joint press conference with Kamala Harris. “There’s systemic racism that’s a stain on our national soul.”
Biden declared that the incident exposed “the found fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day.”
Citing the extensive protests in Minneapolis and across the U.S. in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, the president insisted that such demonstrations “unified people of every race and generation in peace with purpose, to say enough, enough, enough of the senseless killings.”
“Much too rare”
Chauvin’s conviction “is a step forward,” Biden added, noting that he called Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz who expressed gratitude for the administration’s “close work with his team.”
Of course, Biden’s reference to often violent and destructive protests in connection with this week’s verdict came after critics argued that protesters, politicians, and pundits influenced the jury’s decision through implicit and explicit intimidation tactics.
Indeed, comments by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) during her trip to Minneapolis this week were widely condemned for that reason.
Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the Chauvin trial, said that the California Democrat might have given the defense team grounds for appeal.
Biden called the Chauvin verdict “much too rare” in a tacit embrace of the idea that Black Americans are frequently killed by police officers with impunity. While it is true that data between 2009 and 2012 shows Black suspects disproportionately die during encounters with law enforcement, FBI figures from the same period show that Black suspects similarly represented a disproportionate number of deadly attacks on cops.