Joe Biden: Police ‘Become the Enemy’ When They Are ‘Like the Military Invading’

FILE - In this June 25, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden pauses while speaking during an event in Lancaster, Pa. Biden and his leading supporters are stepping up warnings to Democrats to avoid becoming complacent. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
Matt Slocum/AP Photo

Presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden said law enforcement “become the enemy” when using “surplus military equipment” and operating as an invading military in American neighborhoods, offering his comments in a Wednesday-published interview with Ady Barkan for NowThis News.

Biden said, “Surplus military equipment for law enforcement, they don’t need that. The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood — it’s like the military invading — they don’t know anybody. They become the enemy. They’re supposed to be protecting these people.”

Barkan described the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks as functions of “America’s commitment to white supremacy.”

Partial transcript:

BARKAN: George Floyd had five children. Breonna Taylor was only 26 and had decades of hopes and dreams ahead of her. 

But America’s commitment to white supremacy stole away those relationships and those futures. The leaders of the movement for black lives believe that we have been trying to reform police departments for many decades and it is not working. Instead, they believe that the solution is to reduce the number of interactions that civilians have with the police. 

We can reduce the responsibilities assigned to the police and redirect some of the funding for police into social services, mental health counseling, and affordable housing. So for example, instead of sending two police officers with deadly weapons to that Wendy’s drive-through in Atlanta, we could have sent a wellness counselor and a tow truck and then Rayshard Brooks would still be alive today, and his three daughters would still have their daddy. Are you open to that kind of reform?

BIDEN: Yes. I’ve proposed that kind of reform. We need significantly more help. That’s why I call for significant increase in funding for mental health clinics and mental health providers. We are desperately in need of that now. One of the things I’ve been pushing for, in our administration, we put together the ability in a bill that I wrote to make sure that we can look at pattern and practice of police departments. 

Go in and get all the records and find out what they’re doing. That’s why we’re able to stop the stop and frisk in Camden and the stop and frisk in New York City and the rest, where the federal government has right to go in and change systemically what’s going on. There’s a whole range of things that we can do. The idea of no-knock warrants for drug cases is bizarre. We don’t need that. It just invites trouble. That’s how Breonna was killed. There’s a need for fundamental change in us being able to have transparency, be able to have access to the records of police when they have misconduct charges against them, to be able to know where they are so they can’t go from one police department to the next. That should be held. In my administration that information will have to be made available to the Justice Department and held in a file, so you’ll be able to track this.

BIDEN: Surplus military equipment for law enforcement, they don’t need that. The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood — it’s like the military invading — they don’t know anybody. They become the enemy. They’re supposed to be protecting these people. So my generic point is —

BARKAN: Can we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?

BIDEN: Yes, absolutely.

WATCH (relevant portion begins at 20:05):


Biden repeated the false claim that President Donald Trump described neo-Nazis as “very fine people” when asked for the “purpose” of his presidential campaign. He claimed to have opted against another presidential campaign following the death of his eldest son, Beau. His campaign released a video advancing the same false claim as part of its official launch in 2019. 

After the Charlottesville riots in 2017, Trump specifically excluded neo-Nazis from his “very fine people” characterization. He said, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”

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