Expect Little Change in Police Reform with a Biden Presidency.

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  • 03/02/2023

The embers are still warm in burnt police cars, and store shelves bare, as peaceful protests in our nation’s cities were sabotaged and devolved into violence and looting.

“Shoot 'em in the leg instead of the heart.”

As if on cue, the media blamed President Trump for inciting the violence and egging on rioters as he tweeted from within the confines of the Oval Office. They argue that President Trump is overseeing an unprecedented time of racial animus and civil strife in America, attributing him and his rhetoric as the chief reasons the nation is rushing headlong into anarchy.

From a basement somewhere, presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is now attempting to set himself apart from the President, claiming the mantle of a reformer. Biden is arguing that he will pick up where he and President Obama left off when it comes to police reform. (He also advocates for cops to “shoot 'em in the leg instead of the heart.” Not sure if this policy will have anything to stand on, but I digress).

A cursory look at what reforms President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden oversaw during their time at the White House, however, reveals the future “emperor wannabe” has no clothes—and no ground to stand on when it comes to the issue of police reform.

[caption id="attachment_182474" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Rodney King video. Rodney King video.[/caption]


Tragically, the murder of George Floyd is not a novel situation. Without significant reform, both at a local and national level, these kinds of incidents will continue to occur with some frequency.

It’s true, Joe Biden has a long track record on the issue of police violence, but it’s not quite the legacy he’s claiming.

During the Obama/Biden Administration, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray were just a few among the many black men who were killed by law enforcement. These were senseless, oftentimes deliberate killing of black men at the hands of excessive police force.

This begs the question, then, if Vice President Biden would, in fact, shepherd in an era of social change, and protect black men from being killed at the hands of police. After all, he had eight years assisting President Obama, so conceivably, he has a track record of progress to show off, right? Not to mention the fact that Biden has been in American politics for quite some time now; this isn’t even his first—or second—presidential run.

It’s true, Joe Biden has a long track record on the issue of police violence, but it’s not quite the legacy he’s claiming.

In 1991, a civilian, George Holliday, recorded four Los Angeles police officers beating a construction worker named Rodney King. Two months later, Senator Joe Biden authored the "Police Officer's Bill of Rights Act" that “provided greater protections to cops accused of misconduct,” adding to the culture of immunity that eventually acquitted all four policemen. Los Angeles still hasn’t fully recovered from the outrage and riots that followed that decision—and Biden made his position on the issue clear.

In 1994, Biden wrote and helped get to President Clinton’s desk the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (the “Crime Bill”). The legislation, a “tough on crime” posture, is considered by experts as a key cause of mass incarceration in the 1990s, a policy that disproportionately impacted black men, incentivizing states to build more prisons and pass truth-in-sentencing laws.

On the campaign trail, Biden has attempted to divert the blame to states themselves for the disastrous Crime Bill, saying, “what happened is the mass incarceration incurred by the state setting mandatory sentences.” But even the Washington Post concedes that he “needs to take ownership of some of its flaws apparent a quarter-century later.”

[caption id="attachment_182475" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]George Floyd video. George Floyd video.[/caption]

Ownership aside, at minimum, this history raises serious questions as to whether Joe Biden is the foil to police brutality that he is pretending to be. (By contrast, President Trump’s sweeping First Step Act has led to “thousands of people [being] released from prison.”).

One has to wonder if Joe Biden is indifferent, dispassionate, or callous; at the very least, he is no criminal justice reformer.

At Obama’s side, Biden was in the White House when the horrible tragedies similar to George Floyd occurred. In fact, the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013, during Obama’s second term, after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

The Obama/Biden Administration’s response to police shootings and civilian deaths was to change “sentencing guidelines to reduce the disparity in the treatment of drug crimes that had disproportionately harmed black defendants,” and to create a “guardian, not a warrior” mindset in police officers.

“[T]hese reforms did not root out brutality and racism … They were mild both in form and intent,” writes the Intelligencer.

Some of Biden’s more recent “policy proposals” are just a continuation of President Trump’s existing policies, with some small exceptions—like Biden’s emphasis on grants for police departments to “mirror the racial diversity” and prosecuting hate crimes. But if a career politician like Joe Biden promises sweeping police reform, American voters are right to be suspicious.

And as we turn to real tragedies, ones where lives are senselessly lost to police brutality and excessive force, at the highest levels of government all the way down to the local police departments, we must have leaders that advocate for “law and order” and not just when it’s politically expedient. That means a leader that can hold police accountable too—not grant them further immunity to act lawlessly.

If we are to hold our leaders accountable during their tenure in office, it’s difficult not to see that Joe Biden incentivized the prison industrial complex through his Crime Bill, capturing countless black men for low-level crimes. And how he sat in the Vice Presidential seat while cops gunned down unarmed black men—with little to no real reform to show for it.

One has to wonder if Joe Biden is indifferent, dispassionate, or callous; at the very least, he is no criminal justice reformer.

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