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On 2nd anniversary of George Floyd's death, Biden signs police reform order

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On the second anniversary of George Floyd's death, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at changing how law enforcement officers use force. NPR's Tamara Keith reports it does not go as far as the president himself would like.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Relatives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were on hand at the White House for the signing ceremony. Floyd and Taylor, both Black, were killed by police in 2020. Their deaths helped set off a wave of activism and demands for change.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It's not about their death, but what we do in their memory that matters.

KEITH: Biden wanted to sign a law, but bipartisan negotiations collapsed last year, said Vice President Harris.

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VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Last fall, Senate Republicans rejected the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. They walked away from their moral obligation to address what caused millions of Americans to march in the streets.

KEITH: Without Congress, the White House began a lengthy process of drafting an executive order that could earn the support of both civil rights activists and police groups. All were represented at the signing ceremony. But because it's an executive order and not a law, its reforms apply to federal law enforcement and are voluntary with incentives for state and local police. Among other things, it revises use-of-force guidelines to discourage chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and it calls for the creation of a database of officers who have been fired for misconduct.

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BIDEN: By building trust, we can strengthen public safety, and we can more effectively fight crime in our communities. And we can do one more thing - we can show what's possible when we work together.

KEITH: At the end of his remarks, Biden pledged to keep fighting for legislation that would apply directly to state and local police. After signing the executive order, he handed the pen he used to George Floyd's daughter, Gianna, who lit up with it in her hand.

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BIDEN: You're getting so big.

KEITH: Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. In that time, she has chronicled the final years of the Obama administration, covered Hillary Clinton's failed bid for president from start to finish and thrown herself into documenting the Trump administration, from policy made by tweet to the president's COVID diagnosis and the insurrection. In the final year of the Trump administration and the first year of the Biden administration, she focused her reporting on the White House response to the COVID-19 pandemic, breaking news about global vaccine sharing and plans for distribution of vaccines to children under 12.