George Floyd, a Black man, was killed on May 25, 2020 by white police officer Derek Chauvin who kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes in Minneapolis. Chauvin has been convicted by a jury of murder and manslaughter.

A woman holds portraits of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 23, 2021.
A woman holds portraits of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 23, 2021. (AFP)

Thousands across the US including friends and relatives of Black man George Floyd will gather to commemorate the first anniversary of his death under a white policeman's knee.

Floyd, 46, was killed on May 25, 2020 by police officer, Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes in Minneapolis.

Chauvin, convicted by a jury of murder and manslaughter, is to be sentenced on June 25.

Floyd's death sparked protests against racial injustice across the US and around the world.

Major cities across the US have planned a number of events, with the biggest taking place in Minneapolis, here Floyd died.

Minneapolis

The intersection where Floyd took his final breath will on Tuesday be transformed into an outdoor festival, with food, children's activities and a long list of musical performers.

“We're going to be turning mourning into dancing,” rapper Nur-D tweeted. “We're going to be celebrating 365 days of strength in the face of injustice.”

The site of Floyd's death, 38th and Chicago, was taken over by activists soon after his death, and remains barricaded to traffic. 

The “Rise and Remember George Floyd” celebration will also be held there, including a candlelight vigil, caps several days of marches, rallies and panel discussions about his death and where America is in confronting racial discrimination.

Many members of the Floyd family were scheduled to be in Washington on Tuesday, in a private meeting with President Joe Biden, who called family members after the Chauvin verdict and pledged to continue fighting for racial justice.

Washington

Floyd's daughter Gianna, his mother, sister and brothers will be among those attending private talks with Biden at the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.

"The courage and grace of his family, and especially his daughter Gianna, has really stuck with the president," she told reporters. "He's eager to listen to their perspectives."

After the killing during Floyd's arrest outside a store, protests and riots erupted across a country already crackling with tension from the election battle between Biden and then president Donald Trump.

In the wake of the verdict this April against Chauvin, who faces sentencing next month, Biden sought to build on political momentum by urging Congress to pass a far-reaching police reform bill in time for the first anniversary.

READ MORE: Mass rally held in Minnesota ahead of anniversary of George Floyd's murder

People raise their fists as they march during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 23, 2021.
People raise their fists as they march during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 23, 2021. (AFP)

Americans must confront the "systemic racism" revealed by Floyd's killing "head on," he declared.

However, the ambitious deadline comes with only the House having passed the bill, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, while the Senate continues to wrangle over key details.

READ MORE: US grand jury indicts ex-officers for violating George Floyd's civil rights

The bill seeks to reform what critics say have become ever more violent and unaccountable police forces around the country.

Opponents argue that police are being unfairly blamed when they are simply trying to operate in a dangerous and often heavily armed society.

However, Biden and reform proponents say that a culture of impunity and underlying racism have made incidents like Floyd's death increasingly common.

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Toshira Garraway Allen and Courtney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, address the media calling for justice for those killed by police officers, outside the Minnesota State Capitol in St Paul, Minnesota, US, May 24, 2021.
Toshira Garraway Allen and Courtney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, address the media calling for justice for those killed by police officers, outside the Minnesota State Capitol in St Paul, Minnesota, US, May 24, 2021. (Reuters)

Personal impact on Biden

Among other measures, the bill would ban potentially fatal restraint techniques used on suspects, like chokeholds.

It would also end so-called "no-knock warrants," when police are authorized to burst into a suspect's house unannounced -- a volatile situation that led to the accidental killing of a Black woman, Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020.

The most far-reaching of the measures that senators are still debating would be to end current legal protections that block civil lawsuits against police accused of misconduct.

Psaki put a brave face on chances of success, saying "the president is still very much hopeful that he will be able to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law."

While nothing is easy to get through the heavily divided Congress, Biden hopes that the energy unleashed in the wake of Floyd's death will "help move this legislation across the finish line."

George Floyd's cousin Shareeduh Tate and aunt Angela Harrelson hold a baner in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US May 23, 2021.
George Floyd's cousin Shareeduh Tate and aunt Angela Harrelson hold a baner in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US May 23, 2021. (Reuters)

Confirming that there's still hope for the bill, House Democrat Karen Bass, Senate Democrat Cory Booker and Republican senator Tim Scott issued a joint statement on Monday citing "progress."

"This anniversary serves as a painful reminder of why we must make meaningful change. While we are still working through our differences on key issues, we continue to make progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic," they said.

For Biden himself, hosting the Floyds for a "real conversation" will be a moving moment, Psaki said.

George Floyd's death was "a day that certainly impacted him personally and impacted millions of Americans."

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Source: AFP