Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the “horrific killing” of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department earlier this week, demanding a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice.
“George Floyd’s life mattered. It mattered as much as mine. It mattered as much as anyone’s in this country. At least it should have,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said at the outset of a virtual conversation with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.Hours before his death Monday night, a bystander’s video of Floyd’s arrest showed an officer kneeling on his neck, pinning him to the ground. Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly said he could not breathe and eventually became motionless before being put onto a gurney by paramedics.
Biden says he’s grateful for the quick firings of the officers, but that it’s not enough and the officers must be held “more fully accountable.” He says that should include a thorough FBI investigation and an independent Department of Justice civil rights investigation.
“Because we have to get to the root of all this,” Biden said. “We have to ensure the Floyd family gets the justice they are entitled to.”
The outrage began with a video showing police arresting the 46-year-old in south Minneapolis Monday night.
“I can’t breathe! Please, the knee on my neck,” Floyd is heard saying in the video.
The video shows an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground outside Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue and East 38th Street for more than seven minutes. Floyd died a short time later at Hennepin Healthcare.
On Wednesday, another protest is planned for the Oakdale home of a Minneapolis police officer fired over Floyd’s death. Protesters gathered there Tuesday evening and the demonstration was peaceful.
What they're saying: Biden referenced the 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after a New York police officer used an illegal chokehold on him during an arrest.
- “Watching his life be taken in the same manner, echoing nearly the same words as Eric Garner more than five years ago — “I can’t breathe” — is a tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but part of an ingrained systemic cycle that exists in this country,” Biden said.
- “It cuts at the very heart of our sacred belief that all Americans are equal in rights and in dignity.”
The backdrop: Floyd was being arrested for alleged forgery and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to a police press conference Monday night. A Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe
- The incident was caught on video by a bystander. Several times throughout the video, Floyd is heard saying: “I can't breathe.”
- Police said Floyd died “a short time later” after arriving at the hospital.
- Four officers involved in the incident were fired on Tuesday.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is calling for a fair and thorough investigation of George Floyd’s death.
On Wednesday afternoon, Walz made his first public appearance since Floyd’s death, saying he was “shocked and horrified” by the video of Floyd’s death.
“Very clear to anyone that what happened to George Floyd is wrong,” Walz said. “The lack of humanity in the video made me physically ill and it’s even more difficult to understand.”
Walz says he’s glad to see the police officers swiftly fired and says he welcomes investigations by both the state and federal government.
Biden is right, Floyd’s family deserves justice.