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Around the country Tuesday, Americans marked the anniversary of George Floyd's death. Members of Floyd's family met with President Joe Biden and other lawmakers privately to mark the day, and have taken a lead role in efforts towards police reform. Yamiche Alcindor recaps the last year, looks at how the country has responded, and what still needs to be done to bring systemic change.
Around the country today, Americans have marked the anniversary of George Floyd's death. It came at the hands of Minneapolis police one year ago today.
Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.
One year after the murder of George Floyd, community members gathered to pay their respects and renew demands for racial justice and police reform. They also held an outdoor festival at the intersection where he died one year ago today. Using music and food, the crowd tried to turn a place of agony into a place of hope.
It's been a troubling year, a long year, but we made it.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who keeled on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
"We, the jury, in the above entitled matter, find the defendant guilty."
In April, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges. He awaits sentencing next month.
I can't breathe! I can't breathe!
The murder triggered nationwide protests and calls for police reform that have continued throughout the year, including yesterday at a march to the Minnesota State Capitol.
George Floyd's family has taken a lead role in those efforts. Today, the family was in Washington. They met first with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders amid a push for a federal bill dubbed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
The legislation would ban choke holds, among other provisions. Floyd's brother Philonise urged the Senate to pass the House-approved bill.
We need to be able to set standard procedures in place, just like we need meaningful legislation when they signed that George Floyd Policing Act. We need it on Biden's desk. The Senate, they need to get this taken care of.
The family spoke separately with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott, who are leading negotiations for a compromise to get the bill passed.
At the White House, President Biden and Vice President Harris hosted the family privately. They spoke to reporters afterward.
He did let us know that he supports passing the bill, but he wants to make sure that it's the right bill, and not a rushed bill.
At today's White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden was hopeful a consensus could be reached.
White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki:
We have been respecting the space needed for the negotiators to have these discussions about where they can find common ground and where they can find agreement.
The federal efforts come as many cities and states have moved to change policing policies after Floyd's death.
Last July, Minnesota became one of the first states to ban police choke holds and mandate mental health training for police officers, among other things. And, today, the Floyd family announced the launch of a fund to benefit businesses and community organizations in the neighborhood where George Floyd died. They will be using money from the family's $27 million settlement with Minneapolis.
In August, three officers who were on the scene with Chauvin are set to stand trial for their involvement.
Before today's event at George Floyd Square, an Associated Press journalist captured the sounds of what he said were 30 gunshots a block away from the intersection, a reminder of the challenges facing the neighborhood.
And Yamiche joins me now.
So, Yamiche, as you reported, George Floyd's family met with President Biden today. What more do we know about that meeting?
Well, this was an hour-long, private meeting between President Biden, who has known tragic public loss, and the Floyd family that, of course, also knows tragic public loss, of course, at the hands of police.
Now, President Biden, I'm told was very personal with this family. He's gotten to know this family over the last year. He's had multiple conversations with them before the verdict, after the verdict.
He's talked a lot about the family's well-being, asking them how are they doing, how are they coping, do they have the resources they need. The president also released a statement, and I want to read part of it to you.
He said: "For any family experiencing a profound loss, the first year can feel like they got the news a few seconds ago. And they have had to relive that pain and grief at each and every time those horrific nine minutes and 29 seconds have been replayed" — that statement, of course, talking about the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd.
I'm told by the Floyd family, as well as in public statements, that the president spent time really talking to them about processing their grief. He also spent time playing with Gianna Floyd. That's George Floyd's daughter. She ran into the president's arms, he said, and also said: "I'm hungry. Do you have some snacks?"
He gave her ice cream and Cheetos. So, you see there a sort of really genuine back-and-forth there. But the president also assured this family that he is going to be pushing for policing reform.
And speaking of that, Yamiche, the president had called for Congress to pass the George Floyd policing reform act by now, by this anniversary, but, so far, no bipartisan agreement.
What do we know about where that stands?
Well, President Biden spoke to the Floyd family about this, and he said he was not happy with the idea that the deadline that he set, which is today, the year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, that there wasn't a policing legislation that he could sign into law today.
That said, he told the family he doesn't want to rush this, that he really wants it to be a bill with substance. That said, the Biden administration's overall racial justice agenda is going forward. Just today, Kristen Clarke was confirmed by the Senate. She's going to be the first black woman to head the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.
That, of course, is the division that that works specifically with police departments on policy and practices. She's expected to be sworn in tonight by Vice President Harris.
So, even though the legislation is somewhat stalled and there's still a gulf to go, there is, of course, Kristen Clarke now there at the DOJ.
And, finally, Yamiche, the death of George Floyd, of course, triggered these conversations about policing, but also about race and racism in America.
And you have done a lot of reporting about this over the last year. You have traveled. You have talked to people. What is your sense of where we are one year later?
Well, one year later, after the death of George Floyd, we have really experienced a profound shift in perspectives and also profound disappointment in lived realities of so many people of color in this country.
So there is this real breath that's been breathed into the Black Lives Matter movement, with corporations and companies really looking at systemic racism, having that racial reckoning that we always talk about, really talking about diversity and the need for change.
But there also has been this real pushback, through pushing back on the idea of even talking about slavery and the 1619 history there. There also, of course, is this idea that Black Americans are still two-and-a-half to three times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans.
And each day, there are still African Americans waking up, terrified of the police, having to teach their children how to survive police interactions, even if they're unarmed, even if they're doing nothing wrong.
So, a lot of a lot of change, but so much more to go.
And we know those conversations are going to continue.
Yamiche Alcindor reporting on this day that all of us are marking.
Yamiche, thank you.
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