On Day 90, Biden weighed in freely on the “right verdict” as the sequestered jury deliberated in the trial of Derek Chauvin.
On Tuesday, April 20, as the jury deliberated in the trial of Derek Chauvin, President Joe Biden said he was “praying” for the “right verdict.”
“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict,” Biden said, conditioning his nationally-televised remarks on the fact that the jury was sequestered. “The evidence is overwhelming in my view.”
Press secretary Jen Psaki refused to clarify exactly what the president’s remarks meant—even though the meaning was obvious—saying that the president has been “impacted” by watching the events, as well as by his own past trauma of losing family members.
“He is impacted by the exhaustion and the trauma that he’s seen across the country over the last several weeks. I think it was a reflection of that,” Psaki said. Psaki was also asked separately why the White House did not condemn remarks made by Congresswoman Maxine Waters that “We’ve got to get more confrontational” if Chauvin were acquitted.
“The congresswoman has provided further clarification of her own remarks,” Psaki said, adding that “the President recognizes this is an extremely painful issue and, of course, you know, sympathizes with everyone who feels the grief of George Floyd’s passing.”
Conversely, PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor asked why the White House did not defend Waters against criticism.
“I wonder why the White House isn’t saying, ‘We—we back what she said about being confrontational. She was obviously not threatening violence,'” Alcindor mused, speaking on behalf of a taxpayer-funded news outlet. Psaki declined to weigh in.
After the jury handed down its verdict—finding Chauvin guilty on all charges—Vice President Kamala Harris and Biden gave remarks from the Cross Hall around 7:00 p.m. ET.
Harris, who tripped as she ascended the podium, told Americans that “We are all a part of George Floyd’s legacy, and our job now is to honor it and to honor him” before introducing the president.
In his remarks, Biden recalled the summer of 2020 as an historic “summer of protest” the likes of which had not been seen since the civil rights era—unifying diverse groups of people “in peace.”
It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the Vice President just referred to — the systemic racism that is a stain our nation’s soul; the knee on the neck of justice for black Americans; the profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that black and brown Americans experience every single day. The murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the civil rights era in the ‘60s—protests that unified people of every race and generation in peace and with purpose to say, “Enough. Enough. Enough of the senseless killings.”
Biden called “violent protest” not “appropriate,” and warned against “agitators and extremists who have no interest in social justice; who seek to carry out violence, destroy property, to fan the flames of hate and division; who will do everything in their power to stop this country’s march toward racial justice.”
Just three nights of rioting in Minneapolis-St. Paul alone saw multiple grisly killings and at least $500 million in property damage. Teenagers were murdered in the deadly Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone later that summer, amid spates of violence against police, arson, looting, harassment of drivers and bystanders, and destruction of property all over the nation—crimes committed purportedly in the name of racial justice.
“George’s legacy will not be just about his death, but about what we must do in his memory,” Biden said. In Biden’s view, a guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin—a verdict Biden sought after and encouraged—isn’t enough. For this president, the death of George Floyd and its aftermath—replete with months of further death and destruction—must remain a proxy for the relationship between black Americans and police.