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Biden Vows in Video Address to Not 'Fan the Flames of Hate'

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Biden Vows in Video Address to Not 'Fan the Flames of Hate'

2020-06-03 15:18:15

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Joe Biden (Image source: Screenshot)

 

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election, had great timing on Tuesday. He gave his first speech, other than what he delivered while sheltering at home, and addressed the nation regarding not just the protests, but the disturbing nature of George Floyd's death as well. 

What made it even more noteworthy was that he could address Donald Trump's stunning move on Monday to use extreme measures to clear a peaceful protest in front of the White House, then walk over to St. Joe's Episcopal Church, along with a bible, for a photo op. Biden pledged to not "traffic in fear and division" and "fan the flames of hate."

 

"We can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle," Biden said of Trump, noting he is "more interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care." 

"I'll do my job, and I will take responsibility. I won't blame others," the former vice president vowed, while adding, "I'll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain."

 

Biden began his nationally-televised address by mentioning the Floyd tragedy, starting with his last words, "I can't breathe." 

"George Floyd's last words. But they didn't die with him. They're still being heard, echoing across this nation," he said.

 

"They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk. They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus and 40 million have filed for unemployment — but the disproportionate number of those deaths and job losses is concentrated in the black and brown communities." 

"It's a wake-up call for our nation, in my view," Biden expressed. "For all of us. And I mean all of us."

 

He also invoked the memory of Eric Garner, who died six years ago while in NYPD custody and who had used the same words. "It's time to listen to those words," implored Biden. "To try to understand them to respond — to respond with action. Our country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us, leadership that brings us together." 

He announced a new proposal to add to his campaign — a ban on police chokeholds, along with going over his previously-released plans. He promised to tackle larger issues and introduce more vigorous policies on systemic racism and healing the country in the upcoming weeks.

 

Biden has been showing the country throughout the unrest, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, that he can be empathetic to others, a definite change from Trump. 

The African-American support has been something Biden banked on yet also nearly lost. It's that support that brought him his first primary election victory, one that led to others dropping out, which he built on to take over the race, leaving him as the sole candidate remaining.

 

After enjoying that support, he seemed to take it for granted a few weeks ago when he told an audience of mostly African-Americans "you ain't bl  ack" if they're considering voting for Trump. He apologized after taking immediate heat for his comments. 

"The main point of today's speech was to try to call the country together, to root out a very serious problem that affects too many people in America," said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), a co-chair of the Biden campaign. "I think he was being candid. One, showing America what real leadership looks like, what real leadership should sound like. And real leadership should call America to come together and answer this crisis."

 

Biden's address originated from Philadelphia, his campaign's base, and was designed to put him on the same level as Trump. While the president has been seen in regular national addresses dealing with the pandemic, Biden has been holed up at his Delaware home, filming videos and making appearances on talk television. 

He's made a point since Memorial Day, when he finally left his home to lay a wreath at a war memorial, to be a part of the response to the growing unrest after Floyd's death.

 

On Sunday the former vice president visited protesters in Wilmington, Delaware, while Trump was only tweeting threats. On Monday Biden took a knee after listening to critics and prayed with them at a Wilmington church. 

"He did exactly what he needed to do," said Roland Martin, an African-American activist and radio host who has in the past been critical of Biden. "The reality is, the contrast is his greatest strength, Biden's empathy and tone. Compare that with the fake John Wayne persona from Trump."

 

 "But he needs to keep this up," added Martin. He suggested Biden should make a trip to Minneapolis, the site of the Floyd killing. He also criticized Trump for using language reminiscent of the civil rights area, intimating that looters would be shot and threatening to use dogs on the protestors. 

"I truly believe in my heart of hearts, we can overcome," Biden said in his speech, also reminiscent of several decades ago, yet with a different flavor.

 

Biden also brought up quotes from Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He mentioned a more recent leader, Rev. William Barber, and asked Congress to reform policing laws. This includes passing a bill to outlaw chokeholds, one that was introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). 

"It was powerful to hear Joe Biden acknowledge that it's important to now make [the police chokehold] unlawful," said Jeffries in an interview. "The Congressional Black Caucus is leading the legislative effort to develop, in partnership with the nation's leading civil rights groups, a comprehensive legislative response. And Joe Biden's voice in support of that response, once it has been developed, will be incredibly important."

 

Biden brought up previous promises, such as establishing a police oversight commission, and police departments being encouraged to embrace programs that involve community policing. He believes all departments should undergo a review of their hiring procedures, training programs, and de-escalation tactics. Additionally, he wants to see the federal government give to cities and states "the tools and the resources they need to implement reforms." 

"Bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly," he said. "We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for the senseless tragedies to keep happening. And we need to learn from the cities and the precincts that are getting it right."

 

"It's going to take more than talk. We've had talk before," he said, adding that changing the responses to these crises would be "the work of a generation." 

He signed off, saying, "God bless you all; may God protect our troops," without holding a bible up as a prop. Biden doesn't seem to need props like that to get his point across.

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