President-elect Joe Biden told civil rights leaders in a meeting this week that Democrats embrace of the “defund the police” movement during the election “beat the hell out of us.”
The former vice president in Tuesday’s virtual meeting warned them about getting “too far ahead of ourselves” by pursuing his campaign’s promise on reforming the police before the Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will decide which party will hold a majority in the chamber.
“They’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police.’ Anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing — which I promise you, will occur. Promise you,” Biden said, according to excerpts obtained by The Intercept.
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not,” Biden said.
“We’re talking about holding them accountable. We’re talking about giving them money to do the right things. We’re talking about putting more psychologists and psychiatrists on the telephones when the 911 calls through. We’re talking about spending money to enable them to do their jobs better, not with more force, with less force and more understanding,” he continued.
A number of Democrats, including Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and former President Barack Obama, have pinned the blame for the party’s poor showing on the movement that gained momentum after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May.
The movement, launched by Black Lives Matter, drew support from a number of progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.