- The campaign for Joe Biden announced its opposition to defunding the police on Monday.
- Anti-racist protesters across the country have called for material resources to be directed away from police and toward other social services.
- The protests have mainstreamed that demand: Last week, the Minneapolis City Council announced it was looking to disband the city police department.
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Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will not support defunding American police forces, his campaign announced Monday.
Before the police killing of George Floyd, calls to “defund the police” were echoed primarily by left-leaning thinkers and organisers. Now, after two weeks of nationwide anti-racist protests, the demand has entered mainstream political discourse.
The former vice president called for police reform measures but stopped short of supporting defunding.
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” Andrew Bates, a campaign spokesperson, said in a statement. “He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain.”
According to the campaign, Biden supports police-community engagement, greater police department diversity, and the use of body-worn cameras. (Research shows that the use of body cameras does not reduce police brutality.)
Biden’s campaign also said he supports other measures that would change the way communities interact with police.
“Biden supports the urgent need for reform – including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing – so that officers can focus on the job of policing,” Bates said. “That also means funding community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents.”
The Black Lives Matter movement, which emerged after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black boy, in 2013, has seen a broad uptick in national support over the last seven years. Some movement organisers and allies have called for police and prison abolition; others call for stringent reforms.
The Movement for Black Lives, or M4BL, created shortly after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown, supports abolishing police and prisons, replacing them with “institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.”
At the epicentre of the anti-racist protests, the Minneapolis City Council has affirmed its intention to disband the police department and “create a compassionate, non-violent future,”Councilmember Steve Fletcher said last week. By Monday, the move garnered a veto-proof majority of support from councilmembers.
The Biden campaign called its police-reform platform “transformative,” saying that President Donald Trump was preventing the kinds of police reform that Biden supports – police diversity, community engagement, and body cameras.
“There are many police departments across the country who are seeking to realise these kinds of changes, but haven’t had the resources to – and the Trump administration has in fact made obtaining those resources more difficult,” Bates said. “This is at the core of Joe Biden’s plan to bring transformative change to our criminal justice system.”
- Read more:
- Police departments across the country are banning chokeholds and other ‘deadly force’ techniques in the wake of George Floyd’s killing
- UN experts slam ‘modern-day racial terror lynchings’ in the United States, demand immediate reform
- New York Gov. Cuomo falsely said NYPD officers hadn’t hit peaceful protesters with batons. Here are the videos.
- Minneapolis City Council members look to disband the police department as schools and other city agencies cut ties with police
- A majority of Americans say the anger that led to protests against the police killing of George Floyd is ‘fully justified’
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