Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law 20th Anniversary Gala at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. On Monday, Dec. 4, 2018, Biden said he believes that he is the most qualified person in the country to be president. (Yasmina Chavez/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Former Vice President Joe Biden says that white supremacist violence should be condemned, called out and ultimately prosecuted in court.

For nearly two hours, Biden sat with a small group of reporters for an on-the-record conversation on Tuesday in Washington D.C. to discuss, amongst other issues, the country’s current racial climate. The 2020 presidential contender specifically addressed the growing threat of white supremacist groups and an American culture of hatred, which has led to a number of attacks on African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ people and more.

“It’s overwhelmingly a white man’s problem visited on people of color,” Biden said. “So, you got to just speak to it. You got to point it when it occurs and you’ve got to prosecute it when it occurs.”

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You attack [racism] and expose it, you embarrass it and put people in jail who engage in things that are illegal when they are doing it. You call them out. Most of all, you call them out to our children because silence is complicity.”

“You can’t direct your Justice Department to say ‘this is what you’re going to do.’ Like Trump thinks he’s going to tell the attorney general what to do… but, in my administration, it will be absolutely clear [that] it won’t be tolerated.”

During the interview, Biden identified three groups of white Americans: those who are prejudiced, those who are agnostic and don’t think there is an issue of racism and those who are ready to fight racism.

“Let’s get this straight, there is still institutional racism,” said Biden, who worked for 36 years as a senator before serving eight years as Vice President under President Barack Obama.

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Every other time we’ve gone through this kind of period, pre Civil War, post Civil War, the reassertion of the KKK, directed mostly at Catholics and folks from Eastern Europe, it has taken the whole of the country to speak up and do it.”

Biden stopped short of calling President Trump a white supremacist, telling a reporter he was resistant to being forced to “sound like everybody else” on the campaign trail.

“He is encouraging white supremacists. You can determine what that means,” Biden said.

Biden still in the lead

A new national poll shows Biden is now part of a three-way tie with Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, all of whom are leading the crowded pack of Democratic candidates.

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As for the Black community’s support, Biden says he doesn’t take it for granted, despite earning more support than two Black candidates (Senator Corey Booker and Senator Kamala Harris) in the race for president.