Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden on Monday said he was in favor of reforming law enforcement agencies in the US, but rejected the idea of defunding police departments, doing his best to face the challenge of a new President Donald Trump campaign effort to split the DNC vote over the BLM demands following the murder of Gerge Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Biden’s campaign on Monday issued a statement saying the candidate “hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change” and “supports the urgent need for reform,” he nevertheless is against cutting police funding.
Biden told CBS on Monday: “No, I don’t support defunding the police. I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness.”
Meanwhile, President Trump is yet to issue his own statement on whether or not changes are needed in the way law enforcement agencies in the US treat African Americans. On Monday, after meeting law enforcement officials at the White House and declaring that all police officers are “great, great people,” the president took to Twitter to declare: “This year has seen the lowest crime numbers in our Country’s recorded history, and now the Radical Left Democrats want to Defund and Abandon our Police. Sorry, I want LAW & ORDER!”
But the Democrats were not born yesterday and can spot a lethal wedge issue a mile away. They lost the lead in a hotly contested presidential campaign back in 1988 over an African American convict named Willie Horton who used a weekend furlough program from his Massachusetts prison cell to commit assault, armed robbery, and rape. It so happened that the Democratic candidate was also the governor of Massachusetts. You won’t catch Joe Biden or Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) walking into that blind alley again.
But unlike their Republican foes, the Democrats can’t ignore the weeks of protest that ignited the nation over Floyd’s murder and the rage of African Americans about the way their police departments elect to “protect and serve” them. And so, on Monday, Congressional Democrats delivered a sweeping package of reforms the GOP would either endorse or be seen as the party that turned a blind eye on black plight.
Wedge issues are a two-way street.
The democratic package calls for a federal ban on chokeholds, exposing police officers to civil lawsuits, mandating police body cameras nationwide, curbing the military-style arming of local police departments, and creating a national registry of bad cops, to end the practice of shuffling them from one city to another.
Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/JpXUFlxH2J
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) June 7, 2020
Trump’s enemy within the Republican ranks, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), on Sunday marched to the White House with the BLM crowd, and on Monday announced he and his Republican colleagues are working on their own police reform legislation, since Trump and the GOP brass isn’t.
“I state the obvious, which is black lives matter. If there’s injustice, we want to correct that. If there’s prejudice, we want to change that. If there’s bias, we hope to give people a different perspective and we can provide a sense of equality among our people,” the former presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts said.
Speaker Pelosi has been very clear on rejecting the calls to defund the police. The daughter of the Mayor of Baltimore and scion of Italian immigrants, Pelosi is only too aware of the bond between well run American communities and their police departments.
“What we’re doing is talking about how we change policy to make our policing more just,” Pelosi told MSNBC.
Quentin James, Founder & Executive Director of Collective PAC, dedicated to electing African-American officials, told the NY Times about Biden’s stand on the police issue, “I don’t think we need him to say ‘defund police,’ but he can help lift up groups like Collective PAC that are trying to elect reform-minded prosecutors.”
James recently responded to a tweet that declared: “OMG our nation desperately needs a MARTIN LUTHER KING JR!” with the quip: “A white supremacist killed the one we had.”