Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday promised an “era of action” to battle racial inequality, including racism in the criminal justice system, and called for Congress and local governments to immediately move to reform police departments and tactics.
Biden also harshly criticized President Donald Trump for his inflammatory and frequently racist rhetoric following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Floyd’s death has led to days of protests and riots across the country, during which police departments have often deployed tear gas and violence.
“Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either,” Biden said from Philadelphia’s City Hall. It was first time leaving his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, in months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“But I promise you this: I won’t traffic in fear and division,” he added. “I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.”
Biden acknowledged creating an equal justice system would take more than a single term in office, but he said Congress should “immediately” pass “real police reform,” including legislation to ban police chokeholds, legislation to improve oversight and accountability, a ban on transferring military weaponry to police departments and the creation of a uniform standard for when police officers can deploy force.
So far, Congress has taken little action in response to Floyd’s death and the resulting protests.
Biden also said “every police department in the country” should undertake a review of their hiring and training processes.
“More police officers meet the highest standards of their profession,” he said. “All the more reason why bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly.”
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