Biden retreats from 'progressive' crime policies, but not all Democrats have followed suit

 May 29, 2023

President Joe Biden campaigned in 2020 as a supporter of the racial justice demonstrations that erupted after George Floyd's death in police custody.

Biden must continue to strike a delicate equilibrium in his reelection campaign next year, as The Washington Examiner reported.

Three years after Floyd's murder shook the nation, Biden is attempting to steer the Democratic Party away from "defund the police" and other progressive causes that harmed the party down-ballot, even as he retains the coalition that helped him win the White House.

Biden's Comments

"'I can't breathe. I can't breathe.' George Floyd's last words," Biden said in Philadelphia amid the civil unrest and riots unfolding in major cities throughout the country. But they didn't die with him. They're still being heard. They're echoing across this nation,

"They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk,” he continued in his remarks on Floyd.

The white police officer who knelt on the unarmed black man’s neck was later convicted of murder. The difficulty posed by this has been on display in recent days. Biden commemorated the third anniversary of Floyd's murder by vetoing a congressional attempt to override the Washington, D.C. city council's police reforms.

“The Congress should respect the District of Columbia’s right to pass measures that improve public safety and public trust,” Biden said in the message to Congress accompanying his veto.

“I continue to call on the Congress to pass common-sense police reform legislation. Therefore, I am vetoing this resolution.”

Why it Matters Now

Shortly before, however, Biden astounded a number of Democratic legislators by signing similar legislation reversing a D.C. crime measure that reduced penalties for certain offenses.

Biden tweeted prior to the Democratic-controlled Senate vote to rescind it, "I support D.C. Statehood and home-rule — but I don’t support some of the changes D.C. Council put forward over the Mayor’s objections — such as lowering penalties for carjackings," Biden tweeted ahead of the Democratic-controlled Senate vote to overturn it.

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police,” Biden said in his 2022 State of the Union address as top House Republican leaders applauded. “Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training.”

The influence of the president on the remainder of his party has been inconsistent. In New York City and Philadelphia, Democratic mayoral primaries were won by candidates viewed as harsher on crime, whereas in Los Angeles and Chicago, more lenient progressives were elected.

The latter result was especially unexpected in light of the widespread media coverage surrounding Chicago's violent crime surge.

"He believes that we should fund the police and give law enforcement the resources they need for effective policing," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said of Biden the day after the Chicago mayoral runoff. "That is something that the president has been very vocal about and has taken action."

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