Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) discussed policing, the economy, and reparations at a virtual town hall Wednesday night, hosted by Ed Gordon and the NAACP.
Biden wasted no time discussing how important the ongoing protests are to make sure African Americans get the equality they’ve been fighting for for more than 400 years.
“We’re in a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “This is a moment where we must make substantive change but we have to do more than just throw money, we have to change the circumstances around situations.”
Biden also admitted he thought the fight for equality was over when Barack Obama was elected president, but quickly learned that was not the case.
“I thought when we elected an African American president that I stood next to, ‘maybe things have changed,'” Biden said. “But I’ve learned that even a bad president’s words carry.”
The conversation soon shifted to police brutality and changing policing across the country. Fudge said that now is the time for change and discussed the Justice in Policing Act.
“This is the time, as the winds of change are blowing we have to make sure that we strike while the iron is hot,” Fudge said. “On Monday the Congressional Black Caucus introduced the Justice in Policing Act, it is a bill that calls for transparency, accountability and to change the very culture of policing in this country.”
The bill, among other things, prohibits all law enforcement agencies from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling and mandates training on such profiling for all law enforcement. The bill also establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave an agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
“I think we are at a point that we need to reevaluate how we police our communities,” Fudge said, “especially as the need for social services goes up. We know that there is a role for police, we just need to evaluate how to allocate resources to be sure they are put to the best use.”
The group also discussed the economy, which is officially in a recession. Gordon asked Biden what he would need to do to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus pandemic ends. Biden said first he would find every dollar that was taken by a corporation that didn’t qualify for funding but received it anyway.
“I’m going to immediately hire an inspector general to [go] back and track down [every] dollar,” Biden said. “And I’m going to hold people liable who misused the money, stole the money, or shouldn’t have gotten the money in the first place.”
Biden added that his second move would be to work on the infrastructure of the country.
“The second move is to rebuild the economy and the way you do that is infrastructure,” Biden said “You invest in new major initiatives, for example, I have a trillion-dollar proposal for infrastructure. Look at all the schools in America particularly the ones in African American neighborhoods, where you cant drink the water, where the air you breathe is not clean.
“We should be spending $100 billion renovating all those schools; we’ll create good-paying jobs, we’ll put people in position to gain on their income as well.”
Gordon also asked Biden about BET founder Bob Johnson’s comments earlier this month saying African Americans should receive $14 trillion in reparations to close the wealth gap and whether Biden would be in favor of reparations.
“I know it has to be done now, let’s not wait, let’s do the studies and decide whether it should be direct cash payment, but in the meantime you know it has to be done,” Biden said. “For example, if in fact the homes of African Americans were valued the same as white Americans there would be $154 billion more equity in African American homes. That’s how most white Americans build equity.
“We have to change the way in which we deal with access to housing, we have to change the way people are able to acquire housing in the first place.”