Washington, May 25 (EFE).- Cities around the United States on Tuesday commemorated African-American George Floyd, who was asphyxiated by a Minneapolis police officer a year ago today, with the pending promise of police reform to eliminate brutality against the country’s racial minorities.
The most prominent citizen to express that ongoing yearning among progressive sectors was President Joe Biden, who welcomed some of Floyd’s relatives to the White House to speak about the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a legislative bill that is stalled in the US Congress.
“The president is still very … hopeful that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act into law,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said at her daily press briefing on Monday. “We are of course very closely engaged with the negotiators, while also leaving them room to work.”
In a message on the social networks, Biden said that “It’s been one year since George Floyd was murdered. In that time, George’s family has shown extraordinary courage. Last month’s conviction (of his killer Derek Chauvin) was a step towards justice – but we cannot stop there. We face an inflection point. We have to act.”
On the anniversary of Floyd’s death, his relatives visited Congress and the White House to pressure Biden and lawmakers to get the bill passed, legislation that progressives initially hoped would be approved during the year after Floyd died on a South Minneapolis street corner when Officer Chauvin knelt on his neck after he had been handcuffed and subdued.
One of Floyd’s brothers, Philonise, said at a Capitol press conference that the bill is needed in the US and “must come to Biden’s desk.”
“I don’t want people dying the same way my brother has passed. I think things have changed. I think it is moving slowly, but we are making progress,” he said, accompanied by other family members, including Floyd’s daughter, as well as by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers, including California Congresswoman Karen Bass.
Floyd’s death unleashed the largest wave of racial protests and riots in the US since the late 1960s after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a single plea: end police brutality against racial minorities.
The bill to which Philonise Floyd referred, drafted by members of the Black Caucus, made up of Democrats, has become stalled in Congress.
The legislation has Biden’s support and is designed, among other things, to end the use of chokehold techniques by police officers, as well as their “legal immunity” in cases of brutality against civilians, along with the militarization of police departments.
While the Floyd family members were in the capital, dozens of people paid tribute to him at the spot where he died at the hands of the now-fired Chauvin, who was convicted earlier this year of his murder.
One violent incident was registered on Tuesday, although hopes had been that it would remain a peaceful day. On the street corner where Floyd died, multiple shots were fired by unknown gunmen leaving one person wounded, a spokesperson for the city’s police department told EFE.
According to the police source, about 10 shots were fired near the square known now as George Floyd Square, right on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Ave. at 10:10 am local time.
Witnesses interviewed by police said that after the shots were fired several people saw a suspicious vehicle leaving the area “at high speed.”
Shortly thereafter, one person was transported to a local hospital with a bullet wound and later was admitted to the Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment, although their injuries were said not to be serious.
Apart from the situation in Minneapolis, tributes to Floyd were held in other cities, including New York and Miami, and all of them transpired without incident.
New York City authorities and community leaders knelt for nine minutes and 29 seconds on Tuesday in memory of Floyd – the length of the tribute corresponding to the period during which Chauvin knelt on his neck, killing him – at an event headed by well-known civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who directs the National Action Network.
The event was also attended by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, several candidates to succeed him as mayor and local officials who have worked in the struggle against racism.
Floyd will not only go down in history as a “martyr” but also as an inflection point in police monitoring in the US, said Sharpton, who went on to emphasize the intergenerational and multiracial movement that last year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, sent thousands into the streets to demand racial justice.