During George Floyd’s funeral, a video message was played from Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president. Biden’s video message was highly emotional and emphasized the unique devastation that comes from losing a loved one. Biden referenced his own experience of losing his son Beau. “Jill and I know the deep hole in your hearts when you bury a piece of your soul deep in this Earth,” Biden said.
Biden’s message emphasized the need to use the pain from Floyd’s death to fight for a better America and a better world without the sting of racism. “I’ve watched with awe as you summon the absolute courage to channel God’s grace and show the good man George was. To stir justice too long dormant and to move millions to act peacefully and purposefully,” said Biden.
Biden also used the opportunity to condemn the lack of safety which many African-Americans feel on a daily basis and had a message for Floyd’s six year old daughter, “I know you have a lot of questions that no child should have to ask, questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations. Why? Why is Daddy gone? In looking through your eyes, we should all be asking ourselves why the answer is often too cruel and painful.”
On policy issues, Biden has rejected progressive calls for defunding law enforcement while backing a number of police reforms for decreasing instances of brutality and discrimination. Biden also advocates a federal ban on police chokeholds, a new federal police oversight commission, new national standards for when and how police use force, mandatory data collection from local law enforcement and increased capabilities for the Department of Justice to investigate local police departments.
The candidate’s new emphasis on police reform stands in contrast with his support for tough-on-crime bills during the 1980’s and 1990’s, which led to the mass incarceration that has disproportionately harmed African-Americans. Of course, they were different times marked by crack cocaine-based violence.