WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris praised Tuesday's guilty verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin as a step forward in the fight against systemic racism, but they stressed that more work remains to be done.
"Today's verdict is a step forward," Biden said in a Tuesday evening address to the nation. "But it's not enough, we can't stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that a tragedy like this will ever occur again."
Chauvin was accused of killing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck for about nine minutes. The former officer's conduct last May, which was captured on video, set off a nationwide firestorm of protests and unrest against police brutality and racism.
Chauvin, who is white, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The 12-member jury on Tuesday afternoon found Chauvin guilty on all counts.
All three charges carry lengthy prison sentences.
"Because of smartphones so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black American's have known for generations," Harris said alongside Biden.
"We are all part of George Floyd's legacy and our job is to honor it and honor him," Harris added.
"Let that be his legacy," Biden said, "A legacy of peace, not violence, of justice. Peaceful expressions of that legacy are inevitable and appropriate. But violent protest is not. And there are those who will seek to exploit the raw emotions of the moment, agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice, who seek to carry out violence, to destroy property, fan the flames of hate and division, who will do everything in their power to stop this country's march toward racial justice. We can't let them succeed.
"This is the time for this country to come together, to unite as Americans. There can never be any safe harbor for hate in America," Biden added.
Protesters rally outside the 3rd Precinct Monday, April 19, 2021, in Minneapolis as the murder trial against the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd advances to jury deliberations.
Morry Gash | AP
After reading the verdict, the judge said that sentencing would take place in eight weeks. Chauvin was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.
A trial for three of the other officers involved in Floyd's arrest, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, is set to begin in August.
Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report from New York.