Racial justice activists say Biden abandons them with latest crime plan

Racial justice activists say Biden abandons them with latest crime plan

President Biden’s plan to crack down on soaring crime rates by spending $13 billion to hire 100,000 police officers has drawn sharp criticism from some of his biggest allies, who say he’s repeating the mistakes of his 1994 crime bill.

Mr. Biden will outline his plan Tuesday during a trip to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The anti-crime announcement was supposed to take place last month but was delayed after Mr. Biden twice tested positive for COVID-19 and then went on a two-week vacation.

It also comes amid a nationwide crime surge and a particularly bloody weekend. In Washington, D.C., a rookie running back for the Commanders was shot during a carjacking; one person was killed and another injured in a shooting near a Chicago police station; and a gunman opened fire inside an Oregon supermarket killing two people.

Under Mr. Biden’s proposed plan, the administration would spend $37 billion to “support law enforcement and crime prevention.” That would include spending $3 billion to clear court backlogs, create a $15 billion grant program for cities and states to prevent violent crime, and spend an additional $15 billion on community violence-intervention programs.

The plan’s centerpiece — spending $13 billion to hire 10,000 police officers across the country over five years — has drawn widespread condemnation from civil-rights groups and racial-justice activists.

They say Mr. Biden is reprising the missteps of a 1994 crime bill that he penned as a senator from Delaware. That bill also included a provision for 100,000 new officers.

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“This is just a remix of the 1994 crime bill,” said Hawk Newsome, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. “Joe Biden is the architect of mass incarceration for thousands of Black people and he’s about to recreate it.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund both have issued statements slamming Mr. Biden’s proposal to add more cops to the nation’s streets.

In its statement, the NCAAP Legal Defense Fund called adding more cops, “counterproductive to public safety” and “discriminatory.”

A White House official told The Washington Times that Mr. Biden supports “the basic notion that when it comes to public safety in this nation, the answer isn’t to defund the police, it’s to fund the police.”

“He will highlight how his plan would invest in 100,000 more cops who will be trained and supervised consistent with standards in the President’s Executive Order to advance effective, accountable community policing that builds public trust and strengthens public safety,” the official said.

Kevin McGary, president of the conservative-activist group Every Black Life Matters, said civil rights activists’ concerns are overblown. He said more cops are needed to replace those that have walked off the job amid a wave of anti-police sentiment in the last couple of years.

“Equating this with the 1994 crime bill is misguided,” he said. “When you consider there are so many cities that have defunded the police and so many officers resigning, there are more than 100,000 officers that have left the ranks of law enforcement. We do need to reinvest in police.”

While no national numbers are available, nearly 2,500 New York City police officers have filed paperwork to leave the department. The Philadelphia Police Department is down 1,300 officers.

The 1994 bill, signed into law by President Clinton, was the culmination of Mr. Biden’s decades-long effort to make the Democrats the party of law enforcement at a time when America was awash in violent crime, for which his party was regularly being blamed.

Criminal justice-reform activists in recent decades have slammed the bill, saying it was one of the key contributors to mass incarcerations in the 1990s. They say it led to more severe prison sentences, more inmates, and more aggressive policing that has disproportionately hit Black communities.

Mr. Biden has defended the law, even as recently as 2016 when told an audience that it “restored American cities” following high crime and violence.

But as a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden has drastically shifted his position, seeking to distance himself from his signature legislation.

In 2019, Mr. Biden called the bill “a big mistake” because it toughened the sentences for crack cocaine possession, increasing incarceration among the Black community.

“It was a big mistake that was made,” he said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event. “We were told by the experts that ‘With crack, you can never go back.’ It’s trapped an entire generation.”

Once seen as a key ally of police during his four decades in Washington, Mr. Biden changed his tune after the murder of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police touched off a nationwide reckoning on race and policing.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Biden called for dramatic overhauls of policing. He proposed more investigations into local departments, called for a national police oversight commission, and tepidly denounced rioters who were looting U.S. cities in protest of Floyd’s death.

But since taking office, Mr. Biden has consistently pushed back on the “defund the police” movement, calling on cities to increase spending on local police forces. He has scrapped his campaign pledge to create an oversight commission and has failed to pass a major bill that would overhaul policing in America amid opposition.

Mr. Biden in May signed an executive order to create a national registry of police officers fired for misconduct that was widely criticized for being ineffectual.  

In 2021, Mr. Biden was heavily criticized by racial-justice activists after he unveiled a $300 million initiative to boost police hiring. Black civil-rights groups warned him that he could lose their support in the next election if he championed similar positions.

But the president has also appointed several advocates of defunding the police to high-level positions in his administration, including Kristen Clarke who leads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Melanaca Clark, who served as a member of his transition team.

“Joe Biden is a snake oil salesman,” Mr. Newsome said. “He promised massive police reforms and failed to deliver. He promised us safer communities and failed to deliver. And promised us economic opportunities and failed to deliver. He just talks and never delivers for Black people. Failing to pass the police reform bill is a slap in the face.”

As Mr. McGary sees it, Mr. Biden is seeking to appease progressives calling for massive changes to policing while trying to blunt Republican criticism that Democrats are too soft on crime.

“This is a guy who is really trying to play both sides against the middle,” he said. “He has no principles, and that’s why his policies are inconsistent and all over the place.”

Soruce : https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/aug/29/racial-justice-activists-say-biden-abandons-them-l/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

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