Biden to unveil plan addressing mental illness amid gun crimes in Black communities

EXCLUSIVE: The White House hosted mayors and police chiefs from across the country on Monday to discuss gun violence prevention ahead of Tuesday's announcement.

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The Biden administration will unveil a plan to integrate crisis response into its public health policies with mobile mental health crime response units, theGrio has learned. The Department of Health and Human Services will make the connection to the American Rescue Plan on Tuesday.

To pepper the public’s ears with its public health policies, the White House hosted mayors and police chiefs from across the country on Monday to discuss gun violence prevention. Many of the local leaders present at the meeting with President Joe Biden, including New York’s projected mayor, Eric Adams, and Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia brought their Black experience and perspective to the conversation. 

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a meeting with Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser
U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a meeting with Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser (L) about reducing gun violence in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on July 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Adams, a former police officer, acknowledges that many crimes in his city involve issues of mental illness. What’s more, the mayor-elect contends that 48% of inmates at Rikers Island, one of the world’s largest jail facilities, have mental health issues. He also qualifies the inmate population at Rikers, offering statistics that 30% of the inmates are dyslexic and 55% of Rikers Island inmates have learning disabilities.

Adams along with other mayors, police chiefs and a crime prevention expert stood in support Monday of President Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland as they presented the administration’s comprehensive crime reduction strategy to reduce the rising numbers in gun violence and violent crime over the past 18 months. The plan gives cities what has been called historic funding through the American Rescue Plan

A portion of the president’s strategy is community policing where police officers patrol the streets by foot to get to know the community in an effort to cut down on crime and even police-involved killings. Adams told theGrio that he was very excited to address the “violent crisis” facing American cities at the White House. He is calling for a “holistic” approach particularly when it comes to gun violence. 

Adams contends New York City has really felt the “brunt of the large number of handgun crimes” considering New York State does not manufacture traditional guns. However, ghost guns and 3-D printer guns are still accessible.

Adams, who currently serves as the Brooklyn Borough President, thinks, “other states in our union have created a disunion” given the number of guns in those states that find their way into locales that don’t manufacture guns.

Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough President and New York City mayoral nominee Eric Adams (C) talks to reporters with (L-R) Community-Based Public Safety Collective Co-Founder Aqeela Sherrills, Chicago Police Chief David Brown, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo amnd Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy outside the West Wing following a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about reducing gun violence at the White House on July 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Many cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are in the same position with an increase in gun crimes and not one gun manufacturer is in that jurisdiction.

Mayor Bowser said the nation’s capital has strict gun laws. Some of the problems are due to the state of Virginia, which does not have strict gun laws. D.C. is on the I-95 corridor where there are “a lot of illegal guns moving” there.

Bowser believes one of the solutions to the issue is a housing-first strategy that prevents the root cause and domino effect of gun violence.  

“Creating more affordable housing in our cities can help our problem,” said Bowser, who feels job creation and preventing housing insecurity are keys to cutting crime. 

Adams is “tired of seeing the loss of so many innocent babies in Black, Brown and poor communities.” 

When it comes to the president’s anti-crime efforts and the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Memphis, Tennessee Police Chief C.J. Davis told theGrio that “there has to be a correlation” between the two issues of crime and policing. Her city is experiencing gun violence disproportionately in Black and Brown communities. 

Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis (C) talks to reporters with (L-R) Community-Based Public Safety Collective Co-Founder Aqeela Sherrills, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy outside the West Wing following a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about reducing gun violence at the White House on July 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In the quest for solutions to these multi-layered issues, Davis contends, “we have to find balance and we can’t continue to arrest crime away. We need to get guns off the street and hold people accountable. 

“Right now, Black and Brown communities are being terrorized by gun violence,” Davis added.

“Don’t let people believe we can’t do both issues at the same time,” Adams cautioned as he recalled being beaten and arrested by police at age 15.

New York City has seen an overall decrease in crime, however, there are pockets of the city that have not been able to shake the violence. He doesn’t want to wait for gentrification to change the dynamic. He wants a change now. 

“We recognize that we have to come together to fulfill the first responsibility of democracy, to keep each other safe,” President Biden said in his remarks before his meeting with city mayors and police chiefs. “And that’s what the American people are looking for when it comes to reducing violent crime and gun violence.”

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