Aug 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pence addresses Kenosha in RNC speech: "The violence must stop"

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday accepted his re-nomination at the Republican National Convention, where he briefly mentioned the protests that have erupted in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake: "Let me be clear: the violence must stop — whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha."

Why it matters: President Trump and Pence are running on a "law and order" message that speakers have relentlessly underscored on each day of the RNC, warning of an America overrun by left-wing "mobs" under a Biden administration. Pence did not address the incidents of police brutality that have set off many of the protests, and rejected the idea of systemic racism in law enforcement.

What he's saying: "President Donald Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest, but rioting and looting is not peaceful protest, tearing down statues is not free speech. Those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Pence said.

  • "Last week, Joe Biden didn’t say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country. Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha."
  • "Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of America. The American people know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement, and standing with African American neighbors to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns."
  • "From the first days of this administration, we have done both. And we will keep doing both for four more years in the White House. Joe Biden says America is systemically racist. And that law enforcement in America has a, quote, “implicit bias” against minorities."

Reality check: Pence claimed that Biden responded "absolutely" when asked in an interview whether he supported cutting funding to police departments. Biden does not support "defunding the police," a message that many progressives have promoted, but said in an interview with activist Ady Barkan that he "absolutely" supports redirecting some funding to address mental health issues or prison reform.

The bottom line: "The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line, and we’re not going to defund the police – not now, not ever," Pence said.

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