President Joe Biden greets people during a break as he participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By J. K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

President Biden, at a one-hour town hall, Oct. 21, before Baltimore City and metropolitan area residents, was asked directly by moderator Anderson Cooper whether police and first responders should be mandated to take the vaccine, and whether unvaccinated police and first responders should at least be mandated to stay home.

“Yes and yes,” the President replied.

“I waited until July to talk about mandating,” he said of his vaccination mandate for federal employees. “Because I tried everything else possible. The mandates are working.”

The president cited a 90% vaccination rate among U.S. servicemen and women to demonstrate.

Baltimore City’s Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Mancuso is currently leading a standoff with Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott over a citywide mandate to vaccinate Baltimore City police. Under the mandate, Baltimore police officers must either fully vaccinate or submit to weekly COVID testing. Police officers that do not comply cannot report to work.

President Biden was not nearly so direct on issues of voting rights.

While promising his full attention and commitment after his social safety net and infrastructure bills pass Congress, there is little apparent movement on either bill.

“You received overwhelming support from the Black community, and rightfully so,” Thaddeus Price, a Randallstown resident and program coordinator at Morgan State University said. “But now many of us are disheartened, as we watch Congress fail to support police reform, and we watch our voting rights vanish before our very eyes.”

“Mr. President, my question is: What will you do with the next three years to rectify these atrocities, secure our democracy and ensure freedoms and liberties that all Americans should be entitled to?” Price asked.

The President cited his executive orders banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants on the federal level, and ongoing Department of Justice investigations into patterns of civil rights abuses in four major U.S. cities, but could not articulate these instances into a broader national vision or policy.

He could not lay out a plan for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act or the For the People Act. Ultimately, Cooper stepped in to redirect a Biden reverie toward a simpler question of filibuster reform.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!