President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet on Tuesday with the family of George Floyd exactly one year after he was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
The meeting comes as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — legislation that would set up a national registry of police misconduct, ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement and overhaul qualified immunity for police officers — remains stalled in the Senate. Biden had set an initial goal of having the legislation passed by Tuesday, but the White House backed off that deadline to allow negotiations to continue in Congress.
In addition to meeting with the President, the Floyd family is set to meet with the lead negotiators for the police reform bill in the Senate, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott. They will also meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers at the US Capitol, including California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, who led the charge to pass the police reform bill in the House of Representatives.
Biden wanted his meeting with Floyd’s family to be private, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, “in order to have a real conversation and preserve that with the family.”
“He has a genuine relationship with them,” Psaki told reporters on Monday during a White House briefing. “And the courage and grace of this family — and especially his daughter, Gianna — has really stuck with the President. … He’s eager to listen to their perspectives and hear what they have to say during this meeting.”
Those attending the meeting with the President include Floyd’s daughter, Gianna; Gianna’s mother, Roxie Washington; Floyd’s sister, Bridgett Floyd; Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd; Philonise Floyd’s wife, Keeta Floyd; Floyd’s brother, Rodney Floyd; Floyd’s brother, Terrence Floyd; and Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, according to Psaki.
Philonise Floyd said on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning that since his brother’s death, “Things have changed. I think that it’s moving slowly, but it’s making progress.”
He said the police reform bill would be “one of the best things that you can pass across America. People shouldn’t have to live in fear.”
Scott has said that while he does not anticipate an announcement of a bipartisan deal on the police reform bill this week, “We’re starting to see a framework,” and added, “I think we can see the end of the tunnel.” Booker echoed the optimistic sentiment and said, “I think we’re a lot closer” to reaching a deal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden wanted to give the negotiators on the Hill space to do their work, and that he has been speaking with police reform advocates throughout these negotiations. She also would not put a new timeline on when the President expects to sign a police reform bill into law, but said Biden wants to sign the bill into law “as soon as possible.”
“We have been closely engaged with the negotiators and a range of parties on the Hill. We have also 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,” Psaki said when asked what the President has been doing to try and push police reform closer to the finish line after his original deadline came and went.
Biden has a relationship with the Floyd family and first met with them in June 2020 when he traveled to Houston to offer condolences ahead of Floyd’s funeral. The President has spoken to members of the family on a few occasions over the past year, including last month after the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s family announced on Tuesday that they are using $500,000 of their $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis to create The George Floyd Community Benevolence Fund. The fund will offer grants to organizations and businesses that serve the community at 38th & Chicago in Minneapolis. The intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue is where Floyd died.