Biden to meet with Floyd family as police reform deadline unmet

A year after George Floyd’s death, Biden’s goal of signing a police reform bill is stymied by Congress.

President Joe Biden will meet at the White House with the family of George Floyd on the anniversary of his death in Minneapolis [David J Phillip/Pool via Reuters]

The family of George Floyd, the Black man killed by police in Minneapolis a year ago, will meet US President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, the anniversary of his death.

Biden will meet privately with Floyd’s family members, including Floyd’s youngest daughter, seven-year-old Gianna, and her mother Roxie Washington.

Biden “has a genuine relationship with them, and the courage and grace of this family and especially his daughter Gianna has really stuck with the president,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Biden met Gianna at her father’s funeral last year when she told the president, “Daddy changed the world.”

Biden recalled the moment in remarks to the nation when the guilty verdict was delivered in the trial of Derek Chauvin, convicted of killing Floyd.

When Biden addressed a joint session of Congress, he called on Senate negotiators to set the anniversary of Floyd’s death, May 25, as a target for reaching an agreement on police reform legislation.

The House of Representatives has twice passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing bill that would implement sweeping federal reforms but which Senate Republicans have opposed.

While that timeline is not going to be met, “the president is still very much hopeful” that Congress will pass police reform legislation, Psaki said.

“We are, of course, very closely engaged with a range of, with the negotiators while also leaving them room to work,” Psaki said.

Biden spoke with Senator Cory Booker, a leading Democrat on police reform, as recently as May 21, to discuss the legislation’s prospects in the Senate.

Senator Tim Scott, a Republican leading Senate talks on the bill, has said he is optimistic about winning an agreement that would allow reform legislation to move forward.

Biden “is encouraged that there’s ongoing progress, and that there is a sense from the negotiators that there’s a path forward, and he believes he can continue to press on that,” Psaki said.

Scott said earlier this month that Republicans would back a compromise deal with Democrats on the reforms, including a potential agreement on allowing lawsuits by victims of police abuse to be filed against cities and departments.

Many such cases are dismissed under present-day holdings by US judges, although Congress has previously passed a landmark law allowing people to sue the police for civil rights violations.

“The real question is, how do we change the culture of policing. I think we do that by making the employer responsible for the actions of the employee,” Scott told CBS News earlier this month.

Scott has been negotiating with Booker and Representative Karen Bass, a leading author of the House bill, which would ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

The three legislators issued a joint statement on Monday saying they were continuing to work towards compromise.

“This anniversary serves as a painful reminder of why we must make meaningful change,” the legislators said.

“While we are still working through our differences on key issues, we continue to make progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic about the prospects of achieving that goal,” they said.

Police reform has been a priority for Scott, an African American from South Carolina who has said he has been stopped 18 times by police while driving.

Source: Al Jazeera