What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Police reform draws big response from Black voters

African-Americans took centerstage on Saturday night as President-elect Joe Biden thanked them for always “having [his] back” and propelling him to victory. NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker reports from Philadelphia, a city whose Black voters helped Biden carry the state of Pennsylvania and the race.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In their speeches last night, both President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris mentioned how the support of Black voters helped propel them to victory. The state of Pennsylvania was decisive for that win.

    Last weekend, we reported from Philadelphia, where Black Lives Matter advocates were hoping that the fatal shooting of a Black man by police would motivate, not deter, voter turnout.

    NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker returned to Philadelphia just days after police publicly released video from the incident and right before the election was called for Joe Biden.

  • Christopher Booker:

    On Wednesday the city of Philadelphia released the body camera footage of the death of Walter Wallace, Jr, the 27-year-old Black man fatally shot killed by the Philadelphia police in the week before the election.

  • Jaime Gauthier:

    The release got somewhat absorbed into the news of the election.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Philadelphia city council member Jaime Gauthier says even though the release was overshadowed by the election, Wallace's death remains a top the minds of voters from Philadelphia's Black community.

    In addition to voting for president, Philadelphia voters were also asked whether the city should form a police oversight commission and whether the police department should end the use of 'Stop and Frisk.'

  • Jaime Gauthier:

    There was strong support for these ballot initiatives. People, even before the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., people in Philly knew that we needed more accountability and transparency as it relates to how the police function and operate. And people are beyond tired of the ways that police interact with them in their neighborhood.

  • Christopher Booker:

    It seems pretty clear from the tipping point states, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania that the Black community came out substantially.

  • Jaime Gauthier:

    I think that people truly understood the stakes of this election. They knew that we were voting for our health in the face of this pandemic. They knew that we were voting on issues like police reform, and they knew that we were voting to get a president who truly wants to invest in urban areas like Philadelphia. So I think folks got that.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Do you think this will at all change the way that the Democrats message or politic as it relates to the Black community?

  • Jaime Gauthier:

    I sure hope it does. Since 2016, I've seen a lot of focus on white working class voters, particularly in the middle of the country. Black people have saved this party again and again and again. And I think that needs to be truly recognized and not just recognize with acknowledgment, but recognize with policy that's really going to help our people to thrive. You know, they came out in force and so I think it's actually a muscle that's that has been built that we're going to use again and again and again.

  • Christopher Booker:

    With over a million people in Philadelphia registered to vote in this election — the most since 1984 — it is a muscle that has been activated, thanks in no small part to Brittany Smalls, the Pennsylvania state coordinator for Black Voters Matter.

  • Brittany Smalls:

    The work is really mobilizing Black folks. And so our work will continue. When the cameras, before the cameras, I was up and down the street, before the cameras, after the cameras leave in the attention, I was up in state. So my job stays the same.

  • Christopher Booker:

    She recognizes that efforts like hers in cities across the country helped deliver states to like Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania for the Democrats.

  • Brittany Smalls:

    I say, job well done. So all of these organizations around the country that are doing the work, this is not one person's job. That's the mission of Black voters to really mobilize our folks because at the end of the day, we just want change for our community. It's not really it never really was about the candidates, it's about who can deliver the support and resources that we need for our community members.

  • Christopher Booker:

    And this is what is most important for Pastor Carl Day.

  • Pastor Carl Day:

    I think that the Biden-Harris ticket they have a great deal of pressure on them, as they should, the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, we have been waiting for change and answers for a long time. You know, although we may not really be fans of politics, politics comes with politics comes policies. Policies impact people. We are those people.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Philadelphia voters overwhelmingly approved both police reform ballot initiatives. The results coming a day before it was announced Joe Biden clinched Pennsylvania and Walter Wallace's funeral.

Listen to this Segment