Biden Won’t Back Calls To Defund The Police Amid Push After George Floyd’s Death

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the unrest across the country on June 2, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
June 8, 2020 1:32 p.m.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign on Monday said that he won’t support defunding police departments amid a nationwide push for just that in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The former VP weighed in on the matter a day after a majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to support disbanding its police department in light of officers using aggressive tactics such as tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful protesters.

Earlier Monday, House Democrats unveiled a landmark police reform bill in response to nationwide protests calling for reforms in police departments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, denied a claim adopted by Republicans that the bill is a radical move to defund the police by telling MSNBC’s Craig Melvin that “those are local decisions.”

Biden campaign director of rapid response Andrew Bates told TPM in a statement that the former VP’s position against defunding the police is a stance that his criminal justice proposal “made clear months ago.”

Bates added that Biden “hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change” and supports the “urgent need for reform” — which includes public school funding, summer programs, mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from police funding — in order for officers to “focus on the job of policing.”

In his statement, Bates said that “funding community policing programs that improve relationships between officers and residents” include the training “needed to avert tragic, unjustifiable deaths,” diversifying police departments and additional funding for body-worn cameras.

“There are many police departments across the country who are seeking to realize these kinds of changes, but haven’t had the resources to,” Bates said in the statement. “And the Trump administration has in fact made obtaining those resources more difficult.”

The Biden campaign’s statement also comes after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) accused the former vice president of secretly embracing the issue of defunding the police.

“You’re even seeing on the left the debate, where the mayor of New York City and the governor of New York are not [avoiding the issue],”  Scalise said during an interview on Fox and Friends Monday morning. “Joe Biden is trying to play both ends of this and then hide out in his bunker and not directly address it, while yet trying to quietly embrace the defund movement.”

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