Joe Biden Calls Derek Chauvin's Guilty Verdict for the Murder of George Floyd a 'Step Forward'

"Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back, but this can be a giant step forward in the march towards justice in America," the president said after a Minnesota jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of George Floyd's murder last year

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris applauded the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case Tuesday while recognizing that there is still much progress to be made when it comes to policing and racial injustice in the United States.

In a speech following Chauvin's guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd Tuesday afternoon, Biden said the jury's decision is "a giant step towards justice in America," but said it is still "not enough."

"Black men, in particular, have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human. Their lives must be valued in our nation. Full stop," Biden said, recognizing that no amount of progress or justice would bring Floyd back to his grieving loved ones.

"Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back, but this can be a giant step forward in the march towards justice in America," he said.

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From left: Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden gives a speech on April 20. getty images

"It was a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off the whole world to see," Biden said, going on to call systemic racism "a stain on our nation's soul."

In remarks before Biden spoke, Harris urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has already passed in the House of Representatives.

"Today we feel a sigh of relief, still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice," she said. "This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system."

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President Joe Biden. getty images

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Biden and Harris "watched the verdict with staff in the Private Dining Room," the White House said earlier Tuesday. They also spoke with Floyd's family over the phone ahead of the verdict.

After the verdict, Biden spoke with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and he, Harris and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spoke with Floyd's brother Philonise from the Oval Office. Biden had previously said he was "praying" for the "right verdict" and found the evidence "overwhelming."

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From left: President Joe Biden listens as Vice President Kamala Harris gives a speech on April 20. getty images

A jury convicted Chauvin on Tuesday of all three charges in Floyd's murder — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — and the judge quickly ordered him into custody.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Derek Chauvin's conviction.

Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks.

As a first-time offender in Minnesota, he faces a recommended penalty of 12-and-a-half years in prison. He could receive a higher sentence, however, and the most serious crime carries a maximum of 40 years.

George Floyd, the man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
George Floyd. George Floyd

The jury deliberated over Monday and Tuesday after closing arguments ended Monday, following three weeks of testimony in one of the most closely watched trials in recent history.

Numerous high-profile figures and lawmakers reacted to the verdict.

Former President Barack Obama lauded the jury who "did the right thing" in convicting Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd — but the former president urged others to continue pursuing what he called "true justice."

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