Former Vice President Joe Biden urged Congress on Tuesday morning to pass legislation that would ban chokeholds, halt the transfer of military weapons to police departments, and create a “model” use-of-force standard for police across the country during a speech about racial injustice.
Speaking in Philadelphia at City Hall, Biden addressed the nation the day after the stay-at-home order was lifted in Delaware, where he has been largely confined to his home studio.
The Democratic nominee’s speech came after cities erupted into fiery protests and clashes with police in the wake of George Floyd’s death, with police in Washington, D.C., charging at peaceful protesters and throwing tear gas into the crowd near the White House.
In his nearly 25-minute speech, Biden called for Congress to “act this month” to pass legislation introduced in the Democratic-controlled House by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in late April that would classify the use of the chokehold as “excessive use of force by police officers” and would be deemed unlawful. “Congress should put it on the president’s desk in the next few days,” Biden said.
The former vice president also called for an end to the transfer of “weapons of war to police forces” and for the creation of “a model use-of-force standard,” he said. “That also should be made law this month. No more excuses, no delays.”
As the country headed into another day of chaos spurred from excessive force from police officials who disturbed peaceful protesters, Biden emerged from his home to attend in-person gatherings to pay his respect to black Americans in mourning. On Sunday, he visited a protest site in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us,” Biden wrote on several social media platforms on Sunday. The following day, he met with over a dozen faith leaders and local officials at an event at Bethel AME church, also in Wilmington.
Biden’s speech, which was in sharp contrast to remarks given by President Donald Trump, marked the first time in several months that the public heard directly from the Democratic nominee on major television networks. Biden had adhered to strict stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19.
“When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House—using tear gas and flash grenades—in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” he said, calling out Trump by name at several points. “More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.”