Biden: George Floyd's death must prompt action, police reform

"We have to turn our anguish into purpose," Biden said during an online town hall hosted by The Shade Room.
Image: Joe Biden
Presidential candidate Joe Biden participates in a virtual town hall hosted by The Shade Room.The Shade Room / YouTube

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Adam Edelman

Joe Biden continued his de facto listening tour on race issues in America on Thursday night, telling a virtual town hall that the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody must be a moment for action.

"I see you, I hear you, and I'm angry as well. But we have to turn our anguish into purpose,” Biden said during an online town hall hosted by The Shade Room, an entertainment media company focused on the African American community.

“If we just let this wound scab over again, it's never going to heal,” he added during the event, which was moderated by actor Don Cheadle.

Repeating lines from his speech Wednesday about Floyd’s death in police custody, Biden called the Minneapolis man’s death a “wake up call for all of us" and called for policing reforms like the review of hiring and training practices in city police forces and the need to "hold bad cops accountable."

He also spoke candidly about how he didn’t totally anticipate what would follow the election of the first black president, Barack Obama.

“What I didn’t realize is … it’s a constant pull and tug in America,” he said. “America is not a fairytale … It’s a constant struggle between good and evil.”

He added that, “I thought you could defeat hate. I thought you could kill hate.”

“But you can't,” Biden said. “Hate only hides.”

The town hall came amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racism in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. All four officers involved in Floyd's death have been charged.

In recent days, Biden has held several events that he’s used to respond to the killing.

In addition to his speech Wednesday, he spoke on Tuesday to African American leaders and visited a church in Wilmington, Delaware. On Sunday, he visited a site in Wilmington where demonstrators had protested Floyd’s death.

A short while after the event, President Donald Trump tweeted about the 1994 crime bill Biden supported — criticism he has faced throughout the campaign, including from other Democratic presidential candidates — calling it a "total disaster."

"It was mass incarceration for Black people, many of them innocent. I did Criminal Justice Reform, something Obama & Biden didn’t even try to do - & couldn’t do even if they did try. Biden can never escape his Crime Bill!" he wrote.