Symone Sanders Defends Biden On Black Agenda And Mass Incarceration, Suggests All Lives Matter Politics Is The Answer

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Democratic Presidential Candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was defended by Symone Sanders, one of his campaign’s senior advisors, for his role in the 1994 crime bill that led to the mass incarceration of Black people in America. In the original photos: Biden is with his son Hunter, right, at the Duke Georgetown NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) and Sanders speaks during the Rise Up For Roe national tour, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

One of the strikes against Joe Biden as it relates to Black America is his deep involvement with helping pass the 1994 Crime Bill. Infamous for greatly exacerbating the mass incarceration of Black people across the nation, the crime bill is one Biden was very passionate about.

When questioned about the bill by Jameion Fowler [a member of the American Descendants of Slavery (#ADOS) movement] when he visited Biden’s campaign bus, Symone Sanders – one Biden’s senior advisors – defended the former vice-president’s intentions.

Fowler asked Sanders what Biden’s plan was to reverse the law itself and the damage it did to Black America. She responded by saying “questions about the crime bill are very interesting” and “we have to put the crime bill in context.”

“Before the bill was passed you had Black pastors from across the country, African American elected officials … literally asking the federal government to do something because communities were being overrun by crime. It was a mess,” Sanders said. “Now I was like three years old when they passed the crime bill, but it’s what I read about and this is what they say happened.”

While she admitted the crime bill had “adverse effects,” including punishing Black people with addictions to crack cocaine much more than white people addicted to powder cocaine, she continued her defense of Biden by highlighting the Obama Administration’s work to commute prison sentences.

“There have been acknowledgements definitely from Vice President Biden that they didn’t get everything right in that bill,” Sanders said, adding that Biden and Obama worked to “reduce that disparity .. they also worked to commute the most sentences than any president before them.”

Sanders then touted the ‘positives’ that came from the crime bill – including a 10-year ban on assault weapons, protection for women and girls and more.

“The last time we took on the NRA and beat them, it was Joe Biden that authored that bill, an assault weapons ban was in the crime bill … we were safer; and then Republicans came along and reversed that,” Sanders said.

She ended her comments about the crime bill by saying, “I don’t think the question is what is Joe Biden gonna do to reverse anything, reverse a bill. I think the question is, ‘What is Vice President Biden’s plan to build on the work that he and President Obama did frankly in the Obama-Biden administration?’”

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By Sanders’ own admission, she was a toddler in 1994, yet critics pointed out this didn’t stop her from placing the onus for the inequitable treatment of Black people under the law on the victims themselves. Others pointed out that Sanders didn’t actually answer Fowler’s question.

“When white folx struggle the solution is mental health, reparations & sympathy. @PeteButtigieg was asked what 2do abt white male rage – he wants to understand them & help them. You not gonna blame ADOS 4 @JoeBiden Crime Bill. No ma’am. #NotTodaySatan,” wrote one Twitter user in response to Fowler’s video of Sanders’ comments.

“She’s a damn liar and never answered the question Joe Biden 1994 Crime incentivized States to incarcerate more people in exchange for more police and prisons. Can Simone Sanders explain what the racist Joe Biden said below,” replied another user along with video of Biden calling disadvantaged young people “predators on our streets” who “are beyond the pale” so “we have no choice but to take them out of society.”

In an op-ed published in The Nation three years ago, Bruce Shapiro also debunked Sanders’ assertion that Black leaders called for a crime bill that would ultimately hurt their community.

“None of this – contrary to this year’s campaign mythology – was a fait accompli. Back in 1994, criminologists, civil-rights lawyers, community activists, and members of Congress all fought against various provisions of the bill. A hundred and sixty-nine members of the House, including Representative Ron Dellums, co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, voted against it. So did 34 senators. That it passed at all was a tribute to the Clinton administration’s cynical decision to bundle mandatory minimums and prison expansion with the Violence Against Women Act and weapons regulation, making it harder for uneasy progressives to just say no.”

Sanders’ interview with Fowler about the crime bill isn’t the only faux pas Biden’s campaign has made lately. They also came under fire for planning a “Fried Chicken Wednesday” community event at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Columbia, South Carolina.

Despite the recent criticisms and his refusal to give a straight answer on reparations, Biden is still the frontrunner among Black voters.