Biden's Proposals for Police Reform Include Banning Chokeholds and 'Weapons of War' for Cops

Joe Biden outlined police reforms he plans during the first 100 days of his presidency—if he is elected—in a speech Tuesday that slammed President Donald Trump's response to the nationwide protests that erupted after the death of George Floyd.

He called for banning chokeholds by police, creating a national police oversight commission, stopping "transferring weapons of war" to police forces, improving oversight and accountability, and creating a model use of force standard. Biden cited a proposal by New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries that would outlaw chokeholds as the type of change he would support.

Biden added that every police department in the country could take steps now to conduct a comprehensive review of their hiring, training, and de-escalation practices.

"Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession," Biden said. "All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening."

Biden, however, said looting and destroying businesses has no place in the protest, many of which were "built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families."

He also chided Trump for standing in front of a church holding raised bible near the White House for a photo op Monday. He said the president was more interested in power than in principle because of his threats to use military force to stop the unrest in nationwide protests over the death of Floyd by a Minnesota police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

"The President held up a bible at St. John's church yesterday," Biden said. "If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves."

Black activists said Biden could go further in his plans by proposing an agenda informed by the death of not only Floyd but other unarmed black people at the hands of police or white neighbors.

Alicia Garza, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said Biden's plans are an important step but he should propose what the country needs: a comprehensive black agenda that addresses the state of emergency black communities are facing.

"Chokeholds and use of force is important," she told Newsweek. "So is how we allocate our money in cities and states across the nation. Our budgets, from city to Congress are bloated with police funding."

In a statement, Katrina Pierson, a senior advisor for Trump's campaign, said Biden's campaign "made it clear that they stand with the rioters, the people burning businesses in minority communities and causing mayhem, by donating to post bail for those arrested."

Pierson also took issue with Biden's contention that peaceful protestors were dispersed by Trump's order using tear gas and flash grenades Monday, calling it an "erroneous claim."

Representatives from the Trump campaign pointed Newsweek to an earlier statement that said Trump addressed the nation twice, expressed "horror and sorrow" for the death of George Floyd, stood with the peaceful protestors, and made it clear "he would not abide our cities being overtaken by violent, uncontrollable rioters."

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Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives to pay his respects to fallen service members on Memorial Day at Delaware Memorial Bridge Veteran's Memorial Park in Newcastle, Delaware, May 25, 2020. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images/Getty