Will Biden Satisfy Black Activists on Police Reform?
When President-elect Joe Biden addressed supporters to declare victory, he said, “When this campaign was at its lowest, the African-American community stood up again for me,” Biden said. “They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.” Black Lives Matter activists “plan to hold him and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to that I.O.U. with a vengeance,” reports USA Today. In a tumultuous election year that gave rise to a new civil rights movement in response to the death of George Floyd and saw Blacks suffer disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic and staggeringly high unemployment, Black Lives Matter activists are asking the new administration to make Black matters paramount. Mary Hooks of Black Lives Matter Atlanta and Southerners on New Ground, a social justice advocacy organization said, “Beyond a cheap thank you, we need this administration to be bold and unapologetic about paying that debt through enacting policy changes.”
The degree to which the incoming administration works with groups such as Black Lives Matter will help answer the question of how much influence will the progressive arm of the Democratic party have over a career centrist such as Biden and Harris, a former California attorney general, during the biggest reckoning on civil rights and racism since the 1960s. Despite charges by President Donald Trump that Biden and Harris will “defund, dismantle, and dissolve police departments,” the Democratic leaders do not support defunding the police. A Biden administration could provide a swift change in how law enforcement tactics are discussed across the nation. Trump has voiced support for officers while calling those protesting for change “left-wing mobs,” a stark contrast to the previous administration, where Biden served as vice president.