Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden went out of his way in last night’s debate to distance himself from the historic mass movement against racism and police violence that has emerged in recent months. Despite the endless barrage of advertisements from the Biden campaign opportunistically making use of footage from this summer’s demonstrations, or the assurances of Democratic Party-aligned activist organizations, Biden himself made it crystal clear: He’s on the side of the police.
“The vast majority of police officers are good, decent, honorable men and women. They risk their lives every day to take care of us” Biden assured debate viewers in response to a question about Breonna Taylor.
But, Biden admitted that “there are some bad apples.” His solution? “[W]hat I’m going to do as President of the United States is call together an entire group of people at the White House, everything from the civil rights groups, to the police officers, to the police chiefs, and we’re going to work this out.”
Liberation News spoke with Kameron Hurt, who has been involved in organizing protests in Los Angeles against racist police violence, to get his opinion on Biden’s proposed summit, “Serious Black Lives Matter organizers don’t want to sit down with people like the corrupt Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who is facing numerous calls to step down due to his likely affiliation with police gangs inside the LA Sheriff’s Department. We don’t want to sit down with the same Sheriffs who tried to break the leg of a protestor with a riot shield this week.” Referring to people who have recently been murdered by cops in Los Angeles, Hurt added, “We don’t want to have a fancy dinner with the murderous cops who killed Dijon Kizzee, Andres Guardado, and AJ Weber. We demand justice for those whose lives were taken too soon.”
On what has become perhaps the central demand of the anti-racist movement, Biden said during the debate, “I’m totally opposed to defunding the police offices. As a matter of fact police, local police, the only one defunding in his budget calls for a $400 million cut in local law enforcement assistance. They need more assistance.” It may take a moment to decipher Biden’s rambling incoherence, but the point he’s trying to make is clear — he believes the cops should get more money, not less; and Trump should be criticized for providing insufficient funding for police.
Biden follows Trump’s lead
Since it began, Donald Trump and his political allies have attempted to smear the uprising against racist police brutality as nothing more than a mindless expression of violence and “disorder”. Joe Biden failed to challenge this fundamental premise during the debate, and argued completely on Trump’s terms. When Fox News journalist and debate moderator Chris Wallace questioned Biden about violence at protests, Biden replied, “violence in response is never appropriate, never appropriate … I’ve made it clear in my public statements that the violence should be prosecuted. It should be prosecuted and anyone who committed it should be prosecuted.”
Monica Johnson, an anti-racist organizer in Atlanta, told Liberation News she believes, “it’s ludicrous for members of the political establishment to act as if they believe in our movement while using the same ‘violent antifa outside agitator’ talking points as Trump. The Democratic mayors and governors have gassed and brutalized the most peaceful of us just as the Republicans call for.”
Hurt pointed out the hypocrisy of Biden’s presentation, “Biden never spoke out against the violence that the Obama administration unleashed on the African nation of Libya. Biden supported the disastrous war on Iraq, a massive dose of violence on innocent people. Biden is totally fine with using violence to solve the problems of the CEO’s, but thinks he’s a saint because he condemns the righteous rage of the downtrodden.”
It is a damning indictment of U.S. capitalist “democracy” that the demands of one of the most widespread and powerful social movements in a generation (or more) has found no expression whatsoever in the campaigns of either major presidential candidate. The Party for Socialism and Liberation is running Gloria La Riva for President and Sunil Freeman for Vice-President to give people a real alternative. The PSL candidates not only embrace the message of the uprising, they have been in the streets themselves every step of the way. And no matter who occupies the White House after the election, PSL members will be in the movement and in their communities organizing to end racism and the capitalist system as a whole.