President-elect Joe Biden told a group of civil rights leaders that calls among progressives to defund the police allowed the GOP to “beat the living hell” out of Democrats during the 2020 election cycle, according to leaked audio that surfaced Thursday.
Biden’s remarks came during a virtual meeting attended by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and prominent civil rights leaders, including NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton. During the call, Biden said public calls for police reform should be avoided ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff vote, the outcome of which will determine control of Congress’ upper chamber.
“I also don’t think we should get too far ahead ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police’ anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing – which I promise you, will occur. Promise you,” Biden said in the leaked audio first obtained by The Intercept.
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable,” Biden added. “We’re talking about giving them money to do the right things. We’re talking about putting more psychologists and psychiatrists on the telephones when the 911 calls through. We’re talking about spending money to enable them to do their jobs better, not with more force, with less force and more understanding.”