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Biden addresses racial disparities in first presidential town hall

Joe Biden
Posted at 11:35 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 23:35:04-05

In President Joe Biden’s first town hall since Inauguration Day, he fielded a number of questions from citizens concerned about racial disparities.

Among the top concerns was how to ensure access to coronavirus vaccines in Black communities.

"The biggest part of this is physical access," Biden said

Biden laid out several ways he plans to send vaccines to Black communities.

- Sending 1 million vaccines per week to community health centers
- Sending vaccines to pharmacies, as Biden says most Americans live near a pharmacy
- Deploy mobile vaccination vans to distribute vaccines within communities of color

"All the community health centers, now, which take care of the toughest of the toughest neighborhoods in terms of illness, they are going to get a million doses, you know, a week with how we're going to move forward because they're in the neighborhood,” Biden said.

Biden says he expects all American adults who want a vaccine will have access to a vaccine by July.

Biden was later asked to address finding the balance between police reform and using police to protect high-crime communities. Biden responded that he would not defund police units, but plans on giving them more funding.

"We have to put more money in police work so we have legitimate community policing and we're in a situation where we change the legislation," he said. "No one should go to jail for a drug offense. No one should go to jail for the use of a drug. They should go to drug rehabilitation."

Biden also said that a rise in white supremacy was of particular concern.

"I would make sure that my Justice Department and the Civil Rights Division is focused heavily on those very folks, and I would make sure that we, in fact, focus on how to deal with the rise of White supremacy," Biden said.

Biden said that historically Black colleges should see additional funding, adding that HBCUs have been at a competitive disadvantage when going after grant funding and federal contracts.