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Emotional Congressional Black Caucus members on Tuesday cheered a jury’s decision to find former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, but they said the moment now demands that Congress take the next step: enacting criminal justice reform.

“This is just the first step …” Rep.

Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyDemocrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote Biden's DOJ civil rights nominee faces sharp GOP criticism Congressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years MORE (D-Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said moments after the verdict was announced. “We are hopeful that today will be the catalyst to turn the pain, the agony, the justice delays into actions that go far beyond today.”

Those actions primarily focus on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which the House passed on March 3 mostly along party lines. Named for Floyd, a Black man who died last year after Chauvin kneeled on his neck, the sweeping police reform package would, among other things, prohibit racial profiling at every level of law enforcement; ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants at the federal level; and overhaul qualified immunity, which provides police officers and other officials protections from lawsuits.  

Senate Republicans, however, have dismissed the Democrats’ George Floyd bill as too broad. And it’s unclear whether the two sides can reach an agreement to break a GOP filibuster and overhaul the criminal justice system.

CBC leaders said they are undeterred.

“Since the trial started on March 29, 63 people have died at the hands of police. In my opinion this is the human-rights issue in the United States of America,” said Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBass 'hopeful' on passing police reform: 'Republicans that I am working with are operating in good faith' Sunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Lawmakers demand justice for Adam Toledo: 'His hands were up. He was unarmed' MORE (D-Calif.), the immediate past CBC chairwoman. “And the point is that we need to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, put it on President BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE's desk, because that will be the first step to transforming policing …

“So today, I am relieved today. I exhale,” Bass continued. “But today just marks the beginning of a new phase of a long struggle to bring justice in America.”

Beatty and Bass spoke at a news conference outside the Capitol, flanked by roughly 20 fellow CBC members. Moments earlier, they had clasped arms and huddled in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol, watching a laptop and their mobile phones as the judge informed the courtroom that the jury had found Chauvin guilty on all three charges he faced.

There were muffled cheers and sighs of relief. After a CBC procession descended the Capitol steps, they hugged and shed tears of joy. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a Methodist minister, led them in a prayer. 

Another Missouri Democrat, freshman Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a Black Lives Matter activist, told reporters this fight for criminal justice is about survival for African Americans.

“We want our children to grow up, we want to survive. We want to have the same quality of life, as other folks get,” Bush said. “And so this verdict is a step. It's a popping of the lock, to be able to get to the place where we can open the door, and really start to do the work to save lives.”

 

Tags Joyce Beatty Karen Bass Joe Biden Chauvin trial Black Lives Matter police reform George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

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Tags: black lives matter criminal justice chauvin guilty the first step police reform and overhaul the capitol will be

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Joel Greenberg, associate of Matt Gaetz, expected to plead guilty Monday

Joel Greenberg, the disgraced Florida tax collector and associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz, is expected to plead guilty to federal charges on Monday.

Greenberg is scheduled to appear in Orlando's U.S. District Court at 10 a.m. on May 17 for a "change of plea hearing," according to an order. The criminal case, in which Greenberg is facing charges of sex trafficking of a minor, stalking, wire fraud, and identity theft, is said to involve sex-trafficking allegations levied against Gaetz.

The former tax collector initially pleaded not guilty to the array of alleged offenses, though he has since expressed a willingness to strike a deal with prosecutors. It remains unclear whether Greenberg will testify against Gaetz in any proceedings.

JOEL GREENBERG, ALLY OF MATT GAETZ, HIT WITH NEW CHARGES

In late March, it was reported that Gaetz, a sophomore congressman from Florida, is under investigation by federal authorities in connection to Greenberg's myriad of charges, particularly those pertaining to sex trafficking.

The New York Times reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid her to travel with him. Gaetz has called the report "totally false" and told Axios that his lawyers told him he "was not a target but a subject of an investigation regarding sexual conduct with women."

Gaetz, 38, countered the report on Twitter and in statements to Axios and Fox News with a claim that his family is being extorted for $25 million and that the people pushing stories about an investigation into his relationships with women are the people extorting him and the subjects of an FBI investigation.

During an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Gaetz named David McGee, an attorney with Beggs & Lane, as the former DOJ official who was trying to extort him and his family. The Pensacola law firm called the claims "false and defamatory."

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Also in March, Greenberg was hit with 21 charges, bringing the grand total of alleged offenses to 31, after he was said to have diverted $432,700 in taxpayer funds to purchase cryptocurrency and signed sports memorabilia from NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Other charges allege that the Florida man used the Seminole County tax collector's office to furnish a bank account in his own name to write himself checks. He was also accused of obtaining government loans on false premises and threatening a political rival who worked at a local school.

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