Former Vice President Joe Biden heads to Houston, Texas, on Monday to meet privately with and offer condolences to the family of George Floyd, whose death two weeks ago in police custody sparked nationwide protests.
“Vice President Biden will travel to Houston on Monday to meet in person with the Floyd family and to give them his condolences for their heartbreaking loss. He will also record a video message for the funeral service,” a Biden campaign official told Fox News.
But the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is not planning to attend Tuesday’s memorial for Floyd. According to a Democratic source with knowledge of the conversations, Biden didn’t want his Secret Service protection to disrupt the service.
The 46-year-old Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the handcuffed Floyd’s throat for nearly nine minutes. The now-fired officer – Derek Chauvin – has been charged with second-degree murder and has his first court appearance on Monday.
Floyd’s death and the resulting peaceful protests – as well as violent clashes and rioting in cities across the country – quickly pushed longstanding concerns over police brutality against minorities and the broader issue of the country’s history of systemic racism firmly back into the national spotlight.
Biden said a week ago that he had spoken with Floyd’s family, adding that he promised them that “we’ll do everything in our power to see to it that justice is had.”
The former vice president – in an address last week that was carried live by all three major national cable news networks – called Floyd’s death “a wake-up call for our nation” and vowed to reverse the nation’s “systemic racism with long-overdue concrete changes.”
Biden’s also taken aim at President Trump, who’s emphasized his law-and-order approach to the unrest.
“Donald Trump is the worst possible person to lead us through this moment,” Biden tweeted Sunday night. “Our nation is at an inflection point. We can choose four more years of Donald Trump’s poisonous rhetoric and divisive politics — or we can take the next great step forward.”
The president on Saturday – using all capital letters – tweeted “LAW AND ORDER.”
And on Sunday he tried to tie Biden to the increasingly vocal push by many activists and some Democrats to defund police departments
“Sleepy Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats want to ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’. I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!” Trump tweeted.
While Biden’s repeatedly voiced support for the peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic racism and has pushed for police reforms, he doesn’t support defunding law enforcement. His own plan for criminal justice reform advocates spending $300 million to beef up community-orientated policing.
Biden’s trip to Houston on Monday comes as the president meets at the White House with law enforcement leaders and as Senate and House Democratic leaders unveil a sweeping bill that aims to end police brutality and hold law enforcement more accountable.