George Floyd's death anniversary was meant to be a turning point, a time to commemorate the passage of legislation to "root out systemic injustice" in the criminal justice system, as President Joe Biden put it. Instead, Floyd's family traveled to Washington on Tuesday to mourn with Biden and urge Congress to act as they mark the first anniversary of the death of their brother, father, and son.
Floyd's brother Philonise addressed reporters at the Capitol alongside family members, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other legislators, saying, "Today is the day that he set the world on fire. We need to work together to ensure that people in America no longer live in fear," WLWT reported.
Family members later spent an hour at the White House with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Bridgett Floyd, a sister, remained away, intending to return only when a bill was ready to be signed into law.
George Floyd's death ignited a global reckoning over racism and a surge in demands for police reform, but lawmakers have yet to respond. In contrast to his delirious public and private support for his infrastructure bill and the COVID-19 relief package, Biden has taken a back seat in this high-profile legislative battle, choosing to leave the job of crafting a solution to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Floyd family demanded Congress to pass police reform legislation
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which the Democrat-controlled House passed in March, makes it easier for officers to be sued and charged with crimes and prohibiting police chokeholds on a federal level, restricting no-knock warrants, establishing a national database to monitor cops with records of misconduct and enacting a slew of other limits on police use of force.
Despite Biden's Tuesday deadline, the bill has stalled in the Senate, where Democrats need the support of at least 10 Republicans, most of whom are doubtful.
Later Tuesday, Biden told Philonise Floyd and the other Floyd family members, including George Floyd's mother and 7-year-old daughter, that he expects the Senate to find a bipartisan agreement and bring the bill to his desk soon.
Per NY Daily News, after meeting privately with the Floyds, the president issued a statement saying, "We must take action. We are at a crossroads. The battle for America's soul has been a relentless tug of war between the American ideal that we're all born equal and the harsh reality that racism has ripped us apart for years."
According to George Floyd's family, Biden expressed "genuine" concern for how the Floyd family was feeling on the anniversary of George Floyd's death and told them he is displeased that the deadline for police reform has not been met. Attorney Benjamin Crump, who accompanied the family, said the family would discuss bipartisan talks with senators Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Corey Booker, D-N.J.
"We all want better police, but it doesn't have to be one against the other. This is a national concern, not a law enforcement or civil rights issue," Crump noted, as per Fox News.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked earlier why Biden was not using the bully pulpit on Tuesday to turn the heat up on Congress to pass police reform. She said that it is a case of what is believed to be the most positive way to move the talks forward and get to the final result that everyone cares about, which is signing this bill into law. Psaki added that Biden is "encouraged" by bipartisan talks but has declined to set a new timetable for legislation.