It was to be a beautiful ceremony under the sign of reconciliation, in one of the White House’s state rooms, with families of victims of police violence alongside representatives of the police.
But the Uvalde massacre, in which 19 schoolchildren died, will be on everyone’s mind when Joe Biden signs a decree described as “historic” by his services, to more strictly frame the actions of federal law enforcement. .
The date is symbolic, two years after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked huge protests against racism.
George Floyd, an African-American, had succumbed, asphyxiated, during his arrest by four police officers, one of whom was found guilty of murder.
“If the nation is to heal, we must recognize that deadly interactions with law enforcement disproportionately affect black or dark-skinned people,” the White House commented.
The text, which has been under construction for months, provides for a series of measures that will concern federal law enforcement agencies.
The decree creates a register listing the disciplinary procedures and reports of police officers, generalizes the use of pedestrian cameras for police officers, and prohibits, except in exceptional cases, the techniques of strangulation or compression of the carotid artery.
But these restrictions will not be imposed on states and local authorities, which in the United States have very extensive police and judicial powers.
For that, it would take a law, passed by Congress, but which the Democratic president failed to pass.
Nor has Joe Biden managed to pass gun control legislation, from banning assault rifles to mandating psychiatric and criminal background checks on clients. when buying weapons.
As in the case of police violence, it is reduced to governing via the limited instrument of the decree, for example to regulate “kit” weapons at the margin.
The anniversary of the death of George Floyd, the massacre in the school in Texas but also, ten days ago, a racist massacre in Buffalo, are cruel reminders of Joe Biden’s inability to keep his promises of appeasement.
– Institutional paralysis –
This is partly due to the institutional landscape: despite his image of immense power, an American president is not much if he cannot activate, in addition to the executive power, the legislative and judicial levers.
But the Democratic Party has only a very slim parliamentary majority and some of its elected representatives are reluctant to blow up the rules of qualified majority which would allow them to force the blocking of the Republican opposition on many subjects.
In addition, Joe Biden faces a Supreme Court to which his predecessor Donald Trump has given a resolutely conservative position.
Add to all this the personality of the 79-year-old democrat, centrist at heart and who would like to govern by consensus – which in today’s America seems impossible.
While the United States has experienced a surge in the number of shootings since the beginning of the year, the president, for example, has still not succeeded in appointing a director to head the main regulatory authority in this area.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has not had a permanent director since 2015.
A first attempt by the White House, with a fierce supporter of regulation as its candidate, failed for lack of parliamentary support.
Joe Biden has launched a new candidate, with Steve Dettelbach, a former prosecutor who begins the Senate hearing process this week.
He is already a pet peeve of the powerful arms lobby, the NRA. Who, another cruel coincidence of the calendar, is holding its annual meeting from Friday in Houston, Texas.