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Biden tells black leaders he will fight against institutional racism

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pledged Monday to fight institutional racism. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pledged Monday to fight "institutional racism." File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

June 1 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden told African-American leaders Monday he would fight institutional racism and re-establish a Justice Department police oversight body if elected president.

Biden made the announcement to political, religious and education leaders gathered at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., to address ongoing protests nationwide. The protests follow George Floyd's death last week. They were sparked by video showing police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck nearly nine minutes as Floyd was handcuffed, lying down.

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Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck while he was pleading, "I can't breathe," and repeatedly said, "mama," and "please," according to the criminal complaint. It also included nearly three minutes when Floyd was non-responsive. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Friday. Three other officers by his side during the incident haven't been charged.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee listened and took notes before standing to address the crowd. He said, if elected president, he would take action to address "institutional racism" within the first 100 days.

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"We're going to make sure that the economic recovery deals with ... institutional racism but also economic structures that need to be fixed," Biden said.

Biden also said he would put the oversight panel established during the Obama administration to investigate police practices back in place.

The nation needs to "change the way police are trained," he said.

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Biden added that changing the Senate makeup is also key to addressing racism through policy.

"It's not enough to win the presidency," Biden said. "We have to win back the Senate. We have to change the leadership in the Senate. Mitch McConnell cannot remain the majority leader in the Senate."

Though the group was full of support for Biden, there was also critical feedback, including some saying that under the Obama administration, there was not enough of an economic boost for the community.

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One participant also raised concern about his involvement in the 1994 crime bill, which has been criticized for its mandatory minimum sentencing provision.

Biden was also pressed on selecting a black woman as his running mate.

"I promise you there are multiple African American candidates being considered," Biden said.

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Prior to Monday's meeting, Biden spoke with protesters in Wilmington on an unannounced trip unaccompanied by press, but his campaign later posted a photo of him at the protest site.

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