'You've just got to keep at it': Biden urges black leaders on police reform efforts

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Tyre Nichols died after being beaten by US police.
  • US President Joe Biden urged the Congressional Black Caucus to propose police reforms.
  • Senate Republicans  blocked the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday said he hopes the death of Tyre Nichols after a police beating will spur Congress to enact police reforms, urging black lawmakers to "keep at it."

The Oval Office meeting between Biden and members of the Congressional Black Caucus took place a day after the funeral of Nichols, a black man who died in Memphis on 10 January, three days after being brutally beaten by police during a traffic stop.

"My hope is, this dark memory spurs some action that we've all been fighting for," Biden said.

READ | 'We need to take some action': Tears, anger as US police beating victim Tyre Nichols is buried

After the meeting, Representative Steven Horsford, the Congressional Black Caucus chair, said the death of Nichols was only the latest reminder of the problem of police brutality.

"Yesterday it may have been Tyre Nichols but sadly this incident, these incidents, could happen to anyone," he told reporters.

Biden's Democrats tried to pass a wide-ranging set of reforms, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but ran into Republican opposition in the Senate in 2020.

A screen is seen at the entrance of Mississippi Bo
A screen is seen at the entrance of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church displays the celebration of life for Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.

Named for Floyd, another black man who died after a police arrest, it would have banned dangerous chokeholds during arrests, among other measures, and would weaken the legal protections that shield police from civil lawsuits.

Biden said:

You've just got to keep at it.

He underlined that he had forced some "significant changes" by presidential order - although his powers are extremely limited in changing rules for police. 

One of his orders banned chokeholds by federal agents.

Biden is under pressure from black political leaders to make the issue an important part of his State of the Union speech next Tuesday, delivered before a joint session of Congress and a huge TV audience.

"It did come up," Horsford said, stressing the high profile of the occasion and saying Biden would be "uniquely able to convey" the human aspect of the suffering in his speech.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Do you think the wardens deployed across Gauteng will make a dent in curbing crime?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, proper policing is needed
79% - 3368 votes
Yes, anything will help at this point
21% - 879 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.