Vice President Joe Biden: Police and minorities must ‘know each other’

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WASHINGTON– Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday night called for greater efforts to foster understanding between the police and minorities amid growing mistrust between both groups, in the wake of the latest death of an African American man in police custody.

Biden told the crowd at the NAACP’s 60th annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner in Detroit on Sunday night that the nation needs to agree on “two basic truths.”

“Number one, cops have a right to go home and see their families at night. And number two, everyone — regardless of race, ethnicity or immigration status —¬†has a right to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said. “And the only way that happens is if we see one another…and that only happens if we know one another.”

The death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man, in Baltimore police custody sparked another wave of demonstrations throughout the nation, most publicly in protests throughout Baltimore that declined into violent riots there just over a week ago. The riots have since been subdued, but the Obama Administration is facing renewed questions surrounding its efforts and ability to address the root causes of the unrest and issues with law enforcement.

It was the latest in a series of deaths of African American men at the hands of police officers, and reignited an ongoing debate over law enforcement treatment of minorities.

Biden touted community policing programs, which encourage law enforcement to get out into the communities they serve and meet the residents, as integral to the process of improving relations between the police and minorities.

“We need to recognize, they need to recognize that that black kid on the corner is also a kid that likes to draw and maybe has a future as an architect. The community has to realize that that cops are…the same mothers and fathers who tuck their children in bed before they go out on a night shift to protect their children on what otherwise become victims in a crime-ridden neighborhood,” he said.

By Alexandra Jaffe