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In early action, Biden tries to make good on pledge to heal America's racial divide

PoliticsJan 26, 2021 09:07PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People run from flash-bang grenades in uptown Charlotte, NC during a protest of the police shooting of Keith Scott, in Charlotte 2/2

By Sarah N. Lynch and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Tuesday issued a firm call to heal America's racial divide, taking several steps and promising more to confront racism and inequality that he said has plagued the United States for far too long.

Racial tensions simmered during the turbulent four-year presidency of Donald Trump and in issuing several executive orders, Biden noted that the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters was carried out by "thugs, insurrectionists, political extremists and white supremacists."

But Biden said he believes the vast majority of Americans believe in equality.

"We've never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation - to state the obvious - that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives," Biden said in remarks at the White House. "And it's time to act now, not only because it's the right thing to do, but because if we do we'll all be better off for it."

Biden took executive action on four fronts: curbing the U.S. government's use of private prisons, bolstering anti-discrimination enforcement in housing, underscoring a commitment to Native American tribal sovereignty and condemning discrimination against Asian Americans and Americans of Pacific Island descent he said has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Democratic president has sought to roll back some of the policies of his Republican predecessor and deliver on racial justice reforms he promised during the election campaign.

Biden and other critics accused Trump of pursuing policies built around "white grievance" in a nation where the white population is declining by percentage.

But Biden drew criticism from some Republicans when he used his inaugural address last week to decry white supremacy and political extremism.“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book,” U.S. Senator Rand Paul told Fox News last week.

Black voters proved essential to Biden first in winning his party's presidential nomination and then in defeating Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

The United States, still struggling with the legacy of slavery, was rocked by protests against racism and police brutality in many cities last year in response to incidents including the death of Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020.

Trump condemned those protests and attempted to use them to stoke fear and unease among voters during the presidential campaign.

On the day he took office last week, Biden signed an executive order establishing a government-wide initiative to address racial inequity and systemic racism in federal policies, laws and programs.

Biden drew criticism from some Republicans when he used his inaugural address to decry white supremacy and political extremism.“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book,” Senator Rand Paul told Fox News last week.

'I PROMISE YOU'

On Tuesday, Biden said in the coming weeks he would reaffirm a federal "commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and accessibility."

"Again, I'm not promising we can end it tomorrow, but I promise you we're going to continue to make progress to eliminate systemic racism, and every branch of the White House and the federal government is going to be part of that effort," Biden said.

Interest groups as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised Biden's moves.

Biden said his order directing the Justice Department not to renew its contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities is intended to ultimately end the department's use of private prisons.

The order did not address contracts for private prisons by the Department of Homeland Security, which uses such facilities to detain immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Biden described the move as the first step to "stop corporations from profiting" from the incarceration of inmates, and said it was just the start of his administration's plan to address systemic problems in the criminal justice system.

Biden called for restoring and expanding the landmark Voting Rights Act even as many states pursue Republican-backed measures that Democrats have said are intended to suppress voting rights.

After losing the election, Trump made repeated and false claims of widespread voting fraud and irregularities as part of his failed effort to overturn Biden's victory.

The Biden administration's newly announced fair-housing policy will require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to study and counteract the racially discriminatory impacts of previous policies.

"Housing is a right in America and home ownership is an essential tool to wealth creation and to be passed down to generations," Biden said.

In early action, Biden tries to make good on pledge to heal America's racial divide
 

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Comments (12)
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Jan 27, 2021 2:18AM ET
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test
Dan Diaz
Dan Diaz Jan 26, 2021 9:28PM ET
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Funny. I work among 6 states and notice no racial divide. Its the media pushing racial divide and paid protestors that ruin the property of others claiming racism. Racisim is only present if you believe in it or if your getting paid to spew it. Obama years had cities burn (Ferguson) and he was to be about Love, Peace and unicorns. It happens every year because money is spilled into these outfits to protest, burn, and spew hate. If they only went public...
Gershom Zvi
Gershom Zvi Jan 26, 2021 9:22PM ET
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Next president is Kamala Harris 2022
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Jan 26, 2021 9:16PM ET
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Wrong racial tensions did not get worse under Trump. The Media pushed that agenda by focusing on white officers ****black men. If you listened to the media not a single white man was shot by police last year. But I encourage you to search the statistical data in that.
Star Boi
Star Boi Jan 26, 2021 12:13PM ET
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Do the Trump trolls and shills get paid or are they doing the rounds 24/7 because they love him so much even though they would never rate a second thought? What are they putting in your cool-aid, no really? Politicians are bozos that come and go, you really need to get a grip on whats important. Anything remotely moving the needle on the dial from the extreme right elicits violent repulsion like it was communism coming to America. What ever happened to America. Lobotomized?
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jan 26, 2021 11:25AM ET
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Is college cheating a crime? Because Biden got caught.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 11:25AM ET
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Thanks for sharing Kaveh.
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso Jan 26, 2021 9:46AM ET
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The prophecy of Biden's World is coming true.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 9:46AM ET
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A prophecy? What new fantasies are we getting into today?
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jan 26, 2021 9:22AM ET
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Have victims of crime been consulted with respect to any of these changes? How does limiting private prisons promote racial equality? Unless it’s done by reducing incarcerations, only the “owners” of the facilities changes.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 9:22AM ET
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Maybe go look some of this info up for yourself. Oh wait, just kidding, all info is fake unless it comes from someone you align with.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Jan 26, 2021 9:01AM ET
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Trump did more for black people than any Democrat before
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 9:01AM ET
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Thats why blacks overwhelmingly voted for Biden? Is it because Biden “tricked them”? Your racism is showing.
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Jan 26, 2021 9:01AM ET
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Benjamin McIntire  GIve it a rest, you're on the wrong side of history and facts.
peter neal
peter neal Jan 26, 2021 8:14AM ET
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All guns and ammo sold out. Good reasons. Protect yourself.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 8:14AM ET
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Oh right, the lawlessness fantasy your types always peddle after an election doesn’t go your way. Trump was the chaos and lawlessness president and thats why he was voted out already so sleep easy.
Tony Coll
Tony Coll Jan 26, 2021 8:06AM ET
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Lol Biden's baby the crime bill, and his adamancy in locking up victims of the crack epidemic in the '80s & '90s, are literally what started mandatory minimums, strengthened law enforcement (to include military gear), expanded the death penalty, and filled private prison in the first place. Lucky for Biden, no liberals seem to know history.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 8:06AM ET
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You mean the stuff Newt Gingrich and Republicans had a hissyfit over and blocked everything else unless it got passed? Oh yeah totally on the dems. Cool story, bro.
Tony Coll
Tony Coll Jan 26, 2021 8:06AM ET
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Benjamin McIntire excuse me? Biden drafted the crime bill, it was his pet project, and democratic president Bill Clinton signed it into law. Do you know nothing of this history?? There is plenty video of him pleading with congress to lock up crack addicts, excluding his son of course, calling the victims of the crack epidemic vile rapists, murderers, and thieves. Noticed you post unsupported nonsense, and denial comments quite often. Unless you have something useful to say, please just move along.
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Jan 26, 2021 8:06AM ET
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Tony Coll  benny doesn't worry about facts.
Tony Coll
Tony Coll Jan 26, 2021 8:06AM ET
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Catholic Man Truth. None of his posts have any useful information.
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Jan 26, 2021 6:29AM ET
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I guess we now know that the left was electing Barack Obama again.  Apparently biden is just a conduit with dementia.  How did Joe Budden get 80 million votes? Nobody showed up for his rallys, people still don't care what he does or doesn't do and he doesn't know where he is half the time
sal galeano
sal galeano Jan 26, 2021 6:29AM ET
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no one should up to his rallies because there is a pandemic thats killed 400k people. you're not very smart, are you? and he won by 85 million.
Scot House
Scot House Jan 26, 2021 6:29AM ET
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sal galeano the reason they didnt show up to his rallies is cause they dont exist. Votes that come out of thin air.
Alberto Vazquez
Alberto Vazquez Jan 26, 2021 6:29AM ET
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I can see how smart you are.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Jan 26, 2021 6:29AM ET
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Doesn’t even make sense lol. Barack is happoly retired af.
 
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