Joe Biden on Thursday compared the death of George Floyd to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, saying Floyd’s death had a bigger global “impact” than King’s.
At an economic reopening roundtable in Philadelphia, the former vice president spoke of how the advent of smartphones had precipitated global participation in the movement against police brutality and racial injustice.
“Even Dr. King’s assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd’s death did,” Biden said.
“It’s just like television changed the Civil Rights movement for the better when they saw Bull Connor and his dogs ripping the clothes off of elderly black women going to church and firehoses ripping the skin off of young kids,” he continued.
“What happened to George Floyd — now you got how many people around the country, millions of cell phones. It’s changed the way everybody’s looking at this,” he continued. “Look at the millions of people marching around the world.”
Biden both met with Floyd’s family and sent a video message for his funeral in the days following his death in police custody. He said that African-Americans live with the fear of wondering if they’ll be next.
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“People all across this country are enraged and rightly so. Everyday African-Americans go about their lives with constant anxiety and trauma of wondering, ‘Will I be next?’ Sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not,” Biden said on May 29.
On June 1 Biden met with black community leaders in Wilmington, Del., where he faced criticism for his support of the 1994 crime bill and added pressure to pick a black female running mate.
“Over the eight years you were vice president, there was lots of successes, but the African-American community did not experience the same economic opportunity and upward mobility that they did in the ’90s,” state Senator Darius Brown told the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Rev. Shanika Perry, youth pastor of Bethel AME Church, brought up concerns young people have with Biden’s support of the 1994 crime bill.
“It’s been difficult to serve as a surrogate to them because they have great issues with the participation in that. And so they want to know how do you plan to undo the impact of the mass incarceration and the things that have resulted from that particular crime bill,” she told the former vice president.
In his first 100 days as president, Biden promised to set up a “police oversight board.”
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In the Obama administration, he said, “We set up, in the Justice Department, the ability for the Civil Rights Division to go in and look at the practices and policies of police departments. That’s why we were able to stop stop-and-frisk.
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“Reestablish that with more teeth in it. Because we also have to fundamentally change the way in which police are trained,” he continued.