George Floyd Killing: Biden, President Trump Issue Very Different Calls For Justice
George Floyd, a black United States citizen has been killed by white policeman after being tortured in a broad day light.
The Justice Department on Thursday called its investigation into the police killing of George Floyd a “top priority” a day after President Donald Trump asked for an “expedited” investigation and former Vice President Joe Biden called for an independent probe by the agency’s civil rights division.
As reported by USnews, the comments from Biden and Trump come amid a reignited debate over police treatment of people of color and a wave of officer-involved deaths of unarmed black men over the past few years. Biden’s remarks specifically noted the systemic and long-term inequalities that affect minorities in the country as he continues outreach to the black community, while Trump’s more narrowly crafted statements largely focused on pursuing investigations outside a context of social justice.
The death of Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on Monday evening, sparked major protests in Minneapolis after video surfaced showing a white police officer kneeling on his neck and Floyd, who was unarmed, telling him he couldn’t breathe.
The four officers involved in the arrest were immediately fired, and over the past few days calls for federal investigations have escalated – including from the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and the president.
In a Thursday statement, DOJ said that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office are conducting a “robust” criminal investigation into Floyd’s death to “determine whether the actions by the involved former Minneapolis Police Department officers violated federal law.”
“The Department of Justice has made the investigation a top priority and has assigned experienced prosecutors and FBI criminal investigators to the matter,” the statement said.
“Upon conclusion of the FBI’s investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will determine whether federal criminal charges are supported by the evidence. If it is determined that there has been a violation of federal law, criminal charges will be sought.”
As of Thursday afternoon, neither Biden nor Trump appeared to weigh in on the ongoing riots in Minneapolis that began peacefully but later turned to violent clashes between protesters and police.
Biden first addressed Floyd’s death during a virtual campaign event on Wednesday, calling for DOJ to initiate an independent probe by the department’s Civil Rights Division. But his comments went further, noting that it’s “not an isolated incident.” Biden, the vice president during the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, compared it to the 2014 arrest and death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York who repeated “I can’t breathe” while police had him in a chokehold.
“It sends a very clear message to the black community and black lives that are under threat every single day,” Biden said, adding that officials must go a step further beyond the firing of the police officers. “They have to be held more fully accountable, including the FBI investigation and an independent Department of Justice civil rights investigation, because we have to get to the root of all of this.”
“I don’t think we can move forward unless we take aggressive action to rip out the insidious race-based inequalities that corrupt every part of our society,” he added.
Trump was asked by reporters about Floyd during his Wednesday trip to watch the launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule in Florida, which was postponed due to inclement weather. The president, whose tenure has been marked by distrust from the black community, described his death as a “very, very sad event” and said he would receive a full report when he returned to the White House. On Wednesday evening, Trump said DOJ and the FBI are “already well into” an investigation and asked for it to be “expedited.”
While emphasizing justice for Floyd, Trump’s message steered clear of the larger racial and social implications presented by the killing. Trump, who has long touted his support for law enforcement, regularly emphasizes what he considers his administration’s successes on behalf of African Americans. He frequently cites employment figures and has been making a direct appeal to black voters despite polls showing lagging support. But his statement Wednesday was decidedly more modest in tone.
“I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement,” Trump tweeted. “My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”