Booker rips Biden in debate, saying his ‘tough on crime’ bill destroyed communities like Newark

Posted Jul 31, 2019

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker tore into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden on the debate stage Wednesday night, calling the former vice president’s crime bills the reason why some people are still in prison for life on drug charges.

“You are trying to shift the view from what you created,” Booker told Biden, capping a month-long fiery debate between the two over their criminal justice records. “You stood up and used that tough on crime phony rhetoric and got a lot of people elected but destroyed communities like mine.”

Biden continued to attack Booker’s tenure as Newark’s mayor and said the New Jersey senator did nothing to address systemic problems in the city’s police department that prompted a federal investigation.

“You went out and you hired Rudy Giuliani’s guy and engaged in stop-and-frisk, you had 75 percent of stops viewed as illegal,” Biden said, referring to the former mayor of New York City. “The Justice Department came after you for saying you were engaging in behavior that was inappropriate and nothing happened the whole time you were mayor.”

The U.S. Department of Justice began investigating Newark’s police department in 2011 after the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey filed a complaint accusing officers of violating people’s civil rights. In 2014, the three-year probe found rampant abuses in the police ranks and ordered a federal monitor to oversee reforms.

Booker brushed off the criticism saying he inherited a troubled police department and eventually helped pass reforms that the head of the ACLU in New Jersey called “national standard-setting accountability” measures.

Newark agreed in 2013 to publish monthly reports on the sex, race and age of everyone stopped and frisked, and the number of internal affairs complaints and their outcome.

Booker urged Biden — who one point addressed Booker as “the president” and then “the future president” by accident — to come to Newark to see the reforms for himself.

“Mr. Vice President, there’s a saying in my community that you’re dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don’t even know the flavor,” Booker said.

Booker hit Biden over his role in passing several anti-crime bills while serving in the Senate, including the 1994 legislation blamed for sharply increasing the nation’s prison population, especially minorities.

Booker played a key role in passing bipartisan legislation to provide alternatives to incarceration, which was signed into law last December by President Donald Trump.

“We have a system right now that’s broken and if you want to compare records — and frankly I’m shocked that you do — I am happy to do that,” Booker said to cheers from the audience. “Because all of the problems that he is talking about that he created, I actually led the bill that got passed into law that reverses the damages.”

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