Biden urges US police reform by anniversary of Floyd murder

In a photo taken on April 11, 2021, police officers clash with protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - President Joe Biden called on Congress Wednesday (April 28) to pass sweeping reforms to United States policing by the May 25 anniversary of the killing of Mr George Floyd, who died under a white officer's knee last year.

"We need to work together to find a consensus. Let's get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death," Mr Biden told US lawmakers during a joint session of Congress.

"Now is our opportunity to make real progress," he said, eight days after the Floyd trial ended with a murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, told a joint session of Congress the reform was broadly supported by the American people, and that he knew Republicans were "engaged in productive discussions" with Democrats.

The Democratic president drew a bipartisan standing ovation when he praised the police, saying "most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably".

But he said Congress needs to restore trust in law enforcement, end racism in the criminal justice system, and give meaning to the words of Mr Floyd's daughter, who Mr Biden said told him "Daddy changed the world".

"After the conviction of George Floyd's murderer, we can see how right she was - if we have the courage to act," he said.

"Now is our opportunity to make real progress."

Chauvin who kneeled on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, was convicted last week of murder and manslaughter.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives this year passed the "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act", which aims to put a stop to aggressive law enforcement tactics, but the measure had not yet been considered by the Senate.

Republican Senator Tim Scott, in the Republican response to Mr Biden's address, said he was hoping to find support for his alternative policing reform bill.

A policing bill Mr Scott introduced last summer failed in the Senate, after Democrats said it relied too much on incentives rather than mandating changes.

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