May 28, 2023
Across The Nation

President Biden Mentions Justice Dept Investigation into MVPD in SC State Commencement Speech

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ORANGEBURG, S.C. — President Joe Biden mentioned the Justice Department investigation into the patterns and practices of the Mount Vernon Police Department (13:53) and the appointment of the first Black Female NYPD Commissioner Friday afternoon during a commencement speech at SC State, one the country’s over 100 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The Justice Department has opened a pattern-or-practice investigation into systemic misconduct in police departments in Phoenix; Louisville; Minneapolis; Mount Vernon, New York.

But we’re just getting started.

This administration is going to continue to fight for meaningful police reform in Congress and through additional executive actions. 

And you will be our next generation of elected officials, police chiefs, civil rights leaders leading the way.

You see what just happened in New York City?  First Black woman the head of a police department.

Biden also spoke about criminal justice reform and the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, (12:37).

And on criminal justice reform: We need it from top to bottom.  I believe we need judges who understand the experience of the people where they come from.

That’s why I’m proud I appointed Black — more Black women to the federal bench and the circuit courts and more former public defenders to the bench than any administration in American history.  (Applause.)

The previous record was three Black women in eight years.  We’ve confirmed four in less than eight months, and there’s more we can do.

There will be lawyers and judges who will be in charge, who understand — understand real people and the needs of people.

On police reform, I share the frustration — and I know the family well — George Floyd Justice Act and Policing Act.  I know the family well.  It’s not been passed in the Senate, but the fight is not over.  (Applause.) 

Despite Republican obstructionism on this bill, we’ve made changes to federal law enforcement policies that I have the ability to do with the stroke of a pen.  The Justice Department has banned chokeholds, restricted no-knock warrants, required federal agents to wear and activate body cameras

In the speech pledged Friday to fight for stalled voting-rights (21:25) and police-reform legislation, addressing graduates of South Carolina State University amid the harsh reality that months of talks with lawmakers have failed to move the measures closer to becoming law.

But across the board, in addition, the Justice Department — my Justice Department has doubled the voting rights enforcement staff, challenging the onslaught of state laws undermining the right to votes. 

We’ve supported Democrats fighting for a voting rights bill since day one of our administration, making sure that we have unanimous support among Democrats in the Senate, which we do. 

But each and every time it gets to be brought up, that other team blocks the ability even to start to discuss it — “that other team,” what used to be called the “Republican Party.” 

But this battle is not over.  We must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.  We must.  (Applause.) 

We’re going to keep up the fight until we get it done.  And you’re going to keep up the fight.  And we need your help badly. 

After his speech, Biden was presented with an honorary doctorate from the university. The university also gave a degree to Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat representing South Carolina. Clyburn graduated from South Carolina State University in December 1961 but only received his diploma by mail and did not walk across the aisle until Friday’s ceremony.

The president repeatedly praised South Carolina State alumni Representative Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). Clyburn, who has often been credited with resuscitating Biden’s Democratic primary campaign while he was trailing Senator Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.) in early 2020, also spoke at the commencement and was handed his diploma by the president in person, 60 years after he received it in the mail. Clyburn earned a history degree in December 1961. At that time, the college did not conduct a December ceremony, so he was unable to march.

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