At the rancorous first presidential debate on September 29, accusations and interruptions flew ceaselessly. During an exchange on racial justice and policing, President Donald Trump claimed that former Vice President Joe Biden once called Black Americans “super predators.”
“And they’ve never forgotten that,” Trump added.
So, did Joe Biden really call Black Americans “super predators”? Here’s what you need to know:
It Was Actually Hillary Clinton Who Used the Term ‘Super Predators’
Although Biden did co-write and lobby for the controversial 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, commonly known as the crime bill, and use more incendiary language than he does now when talking about criminals on the street, according to The New York Times, he is not the source of the “super predators” quote.
At a 1996 speech, Hillary Clinton spoke about the need for more police on the streets and used the now-infamous phrase when describing the sorts of people who join gangs.
Gangs are “often connected to big drug cartels,” Clinton said. “They are often the kinds of kids who are called super predators. No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about how they ended up that way, but first we need to bring them to heel.”
Trump and his surrogates seized on the past comment during the 2016 election when seeking to court some of the Black vote.
“How quickly people forget that Crooked Hillary called African-American youth ‘super predators,'” Trump said. “Has she apologized?”
Biden Did Use the Word ‘Predators’ in a 1996 Speech to Attorneys General About Juvenile Crime
In 1996, Biden did use the word “predators” in a speech before a conference of state attorneys general. While discussing juvenile crime, Biden noted that there are young offenders who “warrant exceptionally tough treatment.”
You can watch the clip here, via C-SPAN.
“There’s about 100,000 of them, if you want to be rhetorically extreme about it, who are the predators,” Biden said. “There’s 100,000 real bad apples out there. One hundred thousand of the kids you read about on the front page of the newspaper every day. But out of somewhat less than 2.5 million kids are the pool of kids who are going to give you, occupy 80% of your time as prosecutors. One hundred thousand of them warrant exceptionally, exceptionally tough treatment.”
CNN’s K-File also noted that in 1997, Biden pushed back on Clinton’s term “super predators” in a hearing on juvenile crime.
“In 1994, there were about 1.5 million juvenile delinquency cases,” Biden said. “Less than 10% of those cases involved violent crimes. So when we talk about the juvenile justice system, we have to remember that most of the youth involved in the system are not the so-called ‘super predators.’”