US President Joe Biden has met privately with family members of George Floyd, whose death a year ago sparked worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Mr. Floyd’s daughter and her mother, along with his sister, brothers, sister-in-law and nephew, were on hand on Tuesday to meet Mr. Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Polosi at the White House Oval Office.
Forty-six-year-old Mr. Floyd, the black man who had been handcuffed by Minnesota police, was killed by Derek Chauvin, the now-convicted white officer who had knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.
In March, Mr. Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter, awaiting sentencing next month over the killing.
“If you can make federal laws to protect the [national] bird, which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of colour,” Mr. Floyd’s brother, Philonise, told reporters on the White House driveway after the meeting.
Philonise Floyd was referring to an ongoing campaign by the Floyd family to persuade US lawmakers to pass police reform in his name.
Asked about the Oval Office meeting, Mr. Floyd said: “It was great. [Mr. Biden is] a genuine guy. They always speak from the heart.”
In a statement issued by the White House afterward, Mr. Biden said the nation faced “an inflection point”.
“The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart,” he said.
Mr. Biden took time during Tuesday’s meeting to play with George Floyd’s young daughter Gianna, who later stood before the cameras outside the White House and softly called out, “say his name”.
Family members chanted in return: “George Floyd”.
George Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe”, were echoed as a slogan in widespread street protests that spread across the US and the world, following his passing on May 25, last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.