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Police brutality rally in New York after the killing of George Floyd. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Several racial justice leaders remain skeptical of a police oversight panel being formed by the Biden transition team, and one leading Black Lives Matter activist turned down an offer to be part of it.

Why it matters: There was already an urgency for Biden to address police brutality following George Floyd's death, but there's little patience among some racial justice leaders who disagree with the way Biden still talks about policing.

Some say Biden's team delayed moving ahead with the task force because it was concerned about affecting the outcome of last week's Georgia Senate runoff elections.

  • During a December meeting with civil rights leaders, the president-elect said outside pressure around police reform could hurt Democrats because of the way the GOP used phrases like "defund the police" to "beat the living hell out of us across the country.”
  • The one Black Lives Matter activist who declined an opportunity to be involved in the nascent commission asked not to be publicly identified. A Biden transition official said that no offers have been made to any potential panel members. 

Driving the news: The siege of the U.S. Capitol last week renewed conversations about policing standards and use of force.

  • Many were quick to compare how police treated the pro-Trump mob, which was mostly white, versus Black Lives Matter demonstrators last summer.
  • The former was able to storm into the seat of the government; the latter was greeted with National Guardsmen, other federal agents and barricades.

Biden committed last June to form a national police oversight commission during the first 100 days of his presidency. He has also included systemic racism as one of the four major crises facing the country.

While some racial justice leaders disagree with Biden's rhetoric on policing and remain wary of this task force, they want to help but feel sidelined because they haven't been consulted or heard much of anything about it.

  • Black Lives Matter co-founder and Principal of Black to the Future Action Fund Alicia Garza said, “As my mentors have told me: Task forces are where good ideas go to die.”
  • Garza said leaked audio from Biden's recent meeting was "confusing in this moment.”

NAACP president Derrick Johnson told Axios he hasn't discussed the police oversight panel with Biden's team but continues to push for his own idea: appointing a racial equity czar.

  • "Every conversation I start and end with the need for it," he said, "because the urgency for this to happen is immediate."

Yes, but: Some are heartened by recent Justice Department appointments announced by Biden, saying that if Vanita Gupta — a civil rights lawyer tapped to be associate attorney general — is overseeing the panel, it will be in good hands.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

What to listen for in Biden's inaugural address

Vice President-elect Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, and President-elect Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrive in Washington yesterday. Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Reflecting both the man and the times, President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.'s inaugural address needs as much reality as poetry.

What to watch ... The president-elect will do both, sources tell me: Biden’s biography equips him not just to deliver a great speech, but also to start putting the public sector back in good working order.

Mike Allen, author of AM
21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's inauguration signals a great American reset

President Biden prepares to walk the abbreviated parade route in front of the White House after the inauguration. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

President Biden had exited his Cadillac with the new "46" license plates and was strolling a short stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue toward his new home when he spotted "Today" show weather legend Al Roker.

The big picture: Biden dropped Jill Biden's hand — no warning — and trotted over to the delighted Roker. POTUS gave Roker a fist bump and said, "Gotta keep doing this!" It was a very Joe moment in a day that was designed to signal a return to normality in a turbulent America.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.