10 things you need to know today: April 21, 2021
Jury finds Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, Biden and Harris praise verdict and call for police reform, and more
Chauvin found guilty of murdering George Floyd
A jury on Tuesday found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd, who died after Chauvin pressed his knee on his neck for nine minutes. The jury found Chauvin guilty of all the counts he faced — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Each murder charge carries a recommended 12.5-year sentence for a person with no criminal history, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines, while the manslaughter would be expected to result in a four-year term. An attorney for Floyd's family called the verdict "painfully earned justice" that marked "a turning point" for accountability of law enforcement." The case hinged on the cause of death. Prosecutors said Chauvin deprived Floyd of oxygen; the defense said he died of underlying health problems and drug abuse.
Biden, Harris, and Floyd family praise Chauvin verdict, call for reform
President Biden called George Floyd's family after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering Floyd. "At least, God, now there is some justice," Biden told them. Floyd's relatives and Biden said the verdict should serve as a catalyst for broad police reform to stop police brutality against African Americans. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation shortly after Chauvin's conviction was announced. "This can be a moment of significant change," Biden said, but real progress will require reform "to reduce the likelihood that a tragedy like this ever happens again." Harris called on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, saying it would "hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities."
Columbus police swiftly release video showing shooting of Black teen
Columbus, Ohio, police released body-camera video of the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old Black girl hours after the incident, an unprecedented attempt to provide transparency. The video appears to show the girl, identified as Ma'Khia Bryant, swinging a knife at a girl who is on the hood of a car before the officer fires about four times. The incident occurred about 20 minutes before the announcement that a jury had found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in a case that had sparked widespread protests. "It's a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It's a horrible, heartbreaking situation," Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said. "We felt transparency in sharing this footage, as incomplete as it is at this time," was critical.
J&J to resume Europe vaccine rollout
Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that it planned to resume distribution of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe. Regulators there found a link to rare blood clots, but said the vaccine's benefits outweighed the risks of side effects. Johnson & Johnson paused the shot's rollout in the European Union after U.S. agencies recommended a delay of the vaccine's use pending review of the blood clot concerns. The European Medicines Agency's latest recommendation is not binding, but it cleared the way for the block's 27 member states to decide whether to use the vaccine, according to their case load and access to other vaccines. Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine already has been administered to nearly eight million Americans. The pause with Johnson & Johnson's product hampered an already troubled EU vaccination effort, following the suspension of AstraZeneca's vaccine over similar clotting concerns.
Biden administration voices support for D.C. statehood
The Biden administration said on Tuesday it supports H.R. 51, the bill that proposes making Washington, D.C., into a state. "For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C., have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress," said the administration in a statement. "This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values." The statement argued creating a 51st state called the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth would "make our Union stronger and more just." The White House previously indicated it believes D.C. residents deserve representation, but Tuesday was the first formal show of support for the proposal — it comes as the House begins to consider the bill with a hearing and later a vote.
Biden to unveil plan to cut U.S. emissions by half
President Biden plans this week to commit to slashing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by half or more before 2030, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing two people briefed on the matter. The policy is part of Biden's escalation of the federal government's efforts to fight climate change. Biden's pledge will nearly double America's target for emissions cuts compared to the 26 to 28 percent reduction from 2005 levels former President Barack Obama targeted under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which former President Donald Trump quit but Biden rejoined. Biden on Thursday will convene a virtual summit in a bid to restore U.S. leadership on environmental issues. Ahead of the meeting, the European Union tentatively agreed to make the 27-nation bloc climate-neutral by 2050.
Georgia faith leaders call for Home Depot boycott over voting law
A coalition of Georgia religious leaders on Tuesday called for a boycott of Home Depot, which they said had not opposed the state's new law tightening voting restrictions as other companies have done. Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said Home Depot, Georgia's largest public company, had been "silent and indifferent" to the interests of voters who will find it harder to cast ballots under the new law passed by a Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by a Republican governor. "We don't think we ought to let their indifference stand," said Jackson, who leads the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Republicans criticized the boycott, calling it an example of "cancel culture" bullying. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams called for a federal law to pre-empt Georgia's.
Democrats block censure of Maxine Waters over Chauvin trial comments
The House on Tuesday rejected a proposed resolution to censure Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) over comments she made about the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. The party-line vote was prompted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) call to censure Waters for saying that demonstrators should "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" if Chauvin was acquitted, so "they know we mean business." Republican lawmakers accused her of inciting violence; Democrats argued it would be unfair to single out Waters after Republican lawmakers like Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) weren't censured for remarks at a pro-Trump rally ahead of the riot at the Capitol in January. The vote came on the day Chauvin was convicted.
Chile lawmakers advance euthanasia legislation
Chile's Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday passed a bill seeking to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide for adults confirmed to suffer from incurable, unbearable illness. The proposed legislation now goes to the South American nation's Senate. The center-left opposition has championed the bill, first submitted in 2014. It would require a person seeking euthanasia to be diagnosed by two doctors confirming an incurable ailment. Cecilia Heyder, who has metastatic breast cancer and lupus, hopes to be the first person to legally end her own life if the legislation is adopted. "It is not life that I am leading," she said. Pro-government lawmaker Leónidas Romero said the bill's promoters "are suffering from the James Bond syndrome: license to kill."
Chad president reportedly dies fighting rebels
Chad's President Idriss Déby has died from wounds he suffered on the battlefield in the country's north, the military announced Tuesday. Déby, who had been in power for three decades, was declared the winner of last week's presidential election just hours before the news broke. The exact cause of Déby's death has not been verified by news sources, but he had traveled north to visit troops on the frontline of a battle with rebel forces based in Libya. The military said Déby, an army officer by training, was killed while leading troops in combat. His son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, is now expected to head a military council that will govern for an 18-month transitional period, after which new elections will be held.