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White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor has been following Derek Chauvin's trial in the murder of George Floyd and brings us the reaction on Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C.
Meantime, our Yamiche Alcindor has also been following this case closely.
She is right now getting reaction the streets outside the White House — Yamiche.
Well, Judy, here in Black Lives Matter plaza, there is a sense of bittersweet relief.
There's relief that the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds, that it is now — the consequence of that is him being a convicted murderer.
But people here tell me that justice would be George Floyd still being alive. Justice, they tell me, would be Black Americans in this country not being some three times more likely to be killed by the police than white Americans. That is the reality that people face.
And while I hear from people that they are very pleased with this verdict, my understanding is that people here say that this has to be the beginning of the change, that this can't just be one case, that it needs to systemic change.
And I also have to tell you that I have been hearing names of other people who killed got killed by the police, including Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice and so many others. It is so rare for an officer to be convicted. And people feel that today.
And I have to also tell you, people still feel so hurt by what this country just endured over the last year. Remember that people started gathering here in Black Lives Matter Plaza because of the death of George Floyd. And now people are here celebrating a bit, but still very much hurt, still very much traumatized.
And, Yamiche, your regular beat is the White House, where we saw President Biden earlier today essentially pronounce Derek Chauvin guilty before we even heard the jury's verdict. He said the verdict, in his mind, was very clear.
And we understand that, shortly after the verdict was announced, he called the George Floyd family.
That is right.
We are told that the president, as well as the vice president, watched this verdict happened in real time at the White House and that, soon after, President Biden phoned the brother of George Floyd.
Earlier this — today, the president did say that he was praying for the right verdict. He also said that it was overwhelming that this officer should essentially be convicted. The White House was being — trying to be a bit cautious after the president said that.
But we now can report that the president feels relieved, that the president is calling this family, a family that he says he's grown close to, a family that he says understands him and understands the loss that he's endured, as someone who's lost his own children. So, here's the president again reaching out to the Floyd family.
Again, we are supposed to be hearing from the president at some point later this afternoon.
And I can imagine that White House officials tell me you will hear from a president who is empathetic, who is going to be able to say that this is a sense of loss, that, even though this verdict what right, that there's still a sense that there's going to be someone missing at that dinner table, and that George Floyd, the brother, the uncle, the father, he will be definitely missed, and that this country has to do better, that there cannot be another George Floyd, after what we have just endured.
And, Yamiche, just quickly, how much effort, muscle do you believe, from your reporting, the president is going to be putting behind this police reform legislation in the Congress right now?
From my understanding, police reform in this country is a top priority of President Biden.
The issue, of course, is that there is legislation moving through Congress, but that the Senate is so closely tied that Republicans can't get on board. They don't see a way to get legislation through. So, I'm told that Senator Booker, as well as Senator Tim Scott, two African American men who are serving in the Senate, they are working on this legislation together.
And I'm told that President Biden is going to be involved in those talks, going to be involved in trying to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act pushed through.
And in this moment, where people are now top of mind — where George Floyd is top of mind, there's a sense that maybe some sort of bipartisan legislation policing can get through. Given that this officer is, of course, now convicted, there is a sense now that there is a line that police crossed, and that both sides of the aisle should be able to get on board in some way to say, we can do better as a nation.
Yamiche Alcindor, very close to the White House right now at Black Lives Matter Plaza, just a block or so away from where the White House is.
Yamiche, thank you very much.
Thanks so much.
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Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour; the moderator of Washington Week, the weekly public affairs show on PBS; and a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. She is currently covering the administration of President Joe Biden and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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