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Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick

The killing by police of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis has aimed the national spotlight at systemic racism in America. It’s also added pressure on Joe BidenJoe BidenConfirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed Biden's Sunday inauguration rehearsal postponed due to security concerns: report Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again MORE to pick an African American running mate. 

George Floyd’s death after a police officer put his knee to Floyd’s neck while pinning him to the ground closely followed the killing of another black man, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot while jogging in Georgia after a confrontation with two white men.

Both incidents broke through the coronavirus pandemic to make headlines and capture national attention, while underscoring a growing sense that there are two Americas with seemingly different forms of justice for black and white people.

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The killings come at a sensitive time for Biden, whose off-hand remark last week that African Americans “ain’t black” if they vote for President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol MORE sparked controversy over whether he was taking black voters for granted.

Some House lawmakers are actively calling on Biden, who has previously said he would pick a woman to be his running mate, to select an African American.  

“We want people to not take our votes for granted and to work actively and urgently to address some of the issues that persist in our communities,” Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats poised to impeach Trump again Pence opposes removing Trump under 25th Amendment: reports Pelosi vows to impeach Trump again — if Pence doesn't remove him first MORE (D), whose district includes the part of Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, said when asked how the recent deaths of black men might influence Biden’s VP decision.

“Those who are closest to the pain should be closest to the solution,” Omar added.

Sources close to Biden — who served eight years as vice president to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's chief aide says president wants teams, no rivals Where is the campus debate on immigration? Gerald Ford Foundation urges 'dignified' presidential transition MORE, the first black president — say the rash of racial incidents haven't gone unnoticed by Biden and his team and will likely play a role in any decision making going forward. 

“I think this definitely makes him think twice and a third time about it,” said one longtime Biden ally close to the campaign. “He's definitely going to get increased pressure from the black community. You're already seeing that with new hires.”

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Biden has condemned Floyd’s killing, comparing it to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black man who died in 2014 after New York police put him in a chokehold.

“It sends a very clear message to the black community and black lives that are under threat every single day,” Biden said during a virtual campaign event on Wednesday.

He also said police have to be held “more fully accountable” while calling for an investigation by the FBI.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden calls for swift action while outlining .9 trillion virus relief package Porter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's growing isolation as administration comes to an end MORE (D-Calif.), who is on the shortlist of candidates to be Biden’s running mate, has called for the officer involved in the killing to be arrested on murder charges.

Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean Lee150 House Democrats support Biden push to reenter Iran nuclear deal San Francisco mayor says Harris replacement pick 'a real blow to the African American community' Newsom picks Padilla for California Senate seat MORE (D-Calif.), a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has called on Biden to pick an African American woman like Harris, who was previously the attorney general of California.

A new Biden administration must understand that “black lives do matter, and for generations African American men and women have been subjected to unequal justice, have been killed, have been murdered,” Lee, who represents Oakland, told The Hill.

“So it’s time for Biden to select a vice president and attorney general who’s going to make sure there is equal justice under the law and say very loudly and clearly that black lives do matter and this country will no longer tolerate what has taken place,” Lee added.

Biden is expected to announce his pick before Aug. 1. It will be his first major decision as his party’s standard-bearer, and he is facing pressure from different parts of the party.

Progressives are pushing for him to pick a liberal such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPorter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters DeVos mulled unilateral student loan forgiveness as COVID-19 wracked economy: memo MORE (D-Mass.), who supporters argue would energize the Democratic grass-roots.

Others have touted swing-state politicians who might help Biden win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the three Rust Belt states that President Trump won from Democrats in 2016.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is a favorite of some, as is Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGoogle completes Fitbit acquisition Hillicon Valley: Fringe social networks boosted after Capitol attack | Planned protests spark fears of violence in Trump's final days | Election security efforts likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress US Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots MORE (D-Minn.), whose state is now the center of the latest storm over an African American death.

Other African American women believed to be on Biden’s shortlist include former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice; Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSeven Senate races to watch in 2022 Demings on Florida: 'We're excited about what we're seeing' but 'taking absolutely nothing for granted' Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet MORE (D-Fla.), a former Orlando police chief; and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. 

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Biden himself faces pressure to pick an African American woman given the boost black people gave to his campaign when he won the South Carolina primary. Before that victory, his campaign looked like it might never take off.  

“He knows that through the course of the campaign and the reason he's the nominee is the base of support he's received from the African American community,” one ally of Biden said.

This ally also contrasted Biden with Trump, saying he would continue to talk about racial justice and show how American leadership would be different under a new president.

Biden quickly apologized last week for his “cavalier” comments to black radio host Charlamagne tha God that “you ain’t black” if African Americans vote for Trump, and there are differences of opinion about how much the remarks hurt him.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson warned that Biden “cannot take the African American vote for granted,” and one Biden fundraiser told The Hill that the remarks should lead him to pick a black woman as his running mate.

Other Democrats close to Biden downplayed the remarks.

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Asked about the “you ain’t black” remark, Demings, who’s being vetted for VP, replied that Biden “shouldn’t have said it.”

“But by the same token, if we are keeping score, the president of the United States certainly has a greater responsibility than someone running for president,” Demings told The Hill outside the Capitol. "And unfortunately President Trump, since before he was elected, did everything in his power to divide us, particularly along racial lines."

“America needs to get this right. We’ve seen these unfortunate types of incidents happening for decades,” Demings added. “I think Joe Biden is committed to selecting the best running mate possible. I think he has some really good choices; I’m glad that my name is being called.”