George Floyd’s family emerged from a meeting with President Joe Biden on the one-year anniversary of the black man’s death with the president’s promise to support a police reform bill named after him.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd, his daughter Gianna Floyd, 7, and other family members in a closed-door Oval Office meeting that lasted about an hour on Tuesday afternoon.
‘It was a remembrance of what happened to my brother,’ said Philonise, adding of the meeting with Biden, ‘It was great, he’s a genuine guy.’
Outside the White House, Gianna led the chant: ‘Say his name, George Floyd!’
Floyd’s family spoke with reporters after the meeting and urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would address ‘a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability’. It would also prohibit and restrict unnecessary use of force, chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
Biden told the family ‘he just wants the bill to be meaningful and that it holds George’s legacy intact’, Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said.
The Floyd family’s lawyer Ben Crump said the meeting was ‘very personal’ because Biden got to know the relatives over the past year.
Crump said Biden assured the family that he would sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act ‘any day’.
‘He said that he doesn’t want to sign a bill that doesn’t have substance and meaning, so he is going to be patient to make sure it’s the right bill, not a rushed bill,’ Crump said.
The Democrat-controlled House approved the police reform bill for a second time in March. However, the measure has been stalled in the Senate, where 50 Democrats holding a slim majority need the support of at least 10 Republicans in order to overcome a bill-killing filibuster.
In a statement released after the meeting, Biden acknowledged that negotiations on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act are ongoing in Congress.
‘I have strongly supported the legislation that passed the House, and I appreciate the good-faith efforts from Democrats and Republicans to pass a meaningful bill out of the Senate,’ Biden stated. ‘It’s my hope they will get a bill to my desk quickly.’
Biden added: ‘We have to act. We face an inflection point.’
The president stated that a jury finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges against him in Floyd’s death was ‘another important step forward toward justice. But our progress can’t stop there’.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes as he repeatedly said, ‘I can’t breathe’. Floyd’s death sparked Black Lives Matter protests worldwide and demonstrations in the US calling for police reform.
Harris also released a statement after the meeting, saying, ‘Floyd should be alive today’ and ‘Congress must move swiftly and act with a sense of urgency’.
Shortly before the meeting with Floyd’s family members, Biden tweeted that in the year since George was murdered, his family ‘has shown extraordinary courage’.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that she believed much of the meeting with the family would be Biden ‘listening to them and hearing from them on what they want the path forward to look like’.
‘He really wanted it to be a private meeting because he has a personal relationship and he wanted to hear how they’re doing,’ Psaki said. ‘Give them an update on his efforts to sign a bill into law and ensure there is long-overdue accountability.’