Biden meets with city mayors at White House, says ‘defund the police’ is not the answer

On Friday, President Joe Biden welcomed bipartisan mayors to discuss combating crime and how they can use federal dollars to improve communities.

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On Friday, President Joe Biden welcomed bipartisan mayors to the White House for the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting.

This afternoon, Biden delivered remarks highlighting achievements over the past year and a half, including the passing of the American Rescue Plan, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to mayors from across the country during an event at the East Room of the White House on January 20, 2023 in Washington, DC. President Biden hosted mayors who are attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting at the White House to discuss bipartisan achievements. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“When it comes to public safety we know the answer is not to defund the police. It’s to retrain the police. It’s to make sure there’s accountability,” the president said.

He continued, “They need more funding and they need more ancillary help as well … the American Rescue Plan [allocated] $350 billion to state and local governments. We urged them to make communities safer.”

“Many cities from Newark, New Jersey to Baton Rouge, Louisiana have made major investments in community violence intervention initiatives. These studies have shown in some cases that they can reduce violent crime up to 60 percent, particularly among our youth. Doesn’t always do that.”

Biden said there is still work that needs to be done as violence continues to erupt in cities like Washington D.C., New York and Baltimore City.

According to ABC 7 news, a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old were riding a Metrobus heading home from school. When the bus reached the Brightwood neighborhood in Northwest Washington D.C., both children were struck by gunfire as they exited the bus on Jan. 11. D.C. This came after several shootings have taken place in the district.  

Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference later that evening and condemned the shooting.

“You know what you’re doing when you’re six years old? You’re coloring on coloring books, you’re playing dress up with your siblings, you’re going to birthday parties, that’s what you do when you’re six years old.”

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks to reporters near the scene of a shooting on a metro bus at the corner of 14th and Sheridan St NW in the Brightwood neighborhood in Washington, DC on January 11, 2023. The shooting followed an altercation that occurred after several individuals boarded a bus and assaulted one individual. A gun was brandished and three people were shot; one adult male and one boy and one girl both under the age of 10. The individuals shot are reported to have serious but non life threatening injuries.(Photo by Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

She continued, “You shouldn’t be fighting for your life or recovering from a gunshot wound because of an idiot with a gun who doesn’t care about his own life and doesn’t care about theirs.”

Just an hour north of Washington D.C., Baltimore has seen an uptick in homicides and armed carjackings.

According to WBALTV, the Baltimore City Police Department has created a task force to stop armed individuals from hijacking vehicles belonging to ride-share workers.

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott told theGrio that violence is inexcusable; however, he believes certain conditions create a violent atmosphere.

He explained: “If you live in a city that literally created redlining … and that neighborhood that you live in has faced decades of disinvestment where there were no capital improvements. You weren’t getting your street fixed, your school didn’t have heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer…When you don’t have access in your neighborhood to healthy food but there are five liquor stores on one block. It creates an environment that breeds that kind of activity.”

Mayor Scott has received backlash and criticism for the uptick in crime. “Heavy is the crown. We know that people are going to blame whoever is in charge,” he said. “When gas prices go up, they blame President Biden.”

UNITED STATES – JULY 11: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott attends an event with President Joe Biden on the South Lawn of the White House to commemorate the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will help curb gun violence on Monday, July 11, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Scott continued, “Understand that Baltimore has had violent crime issues longer than I’ve been breathing … I’ll take the blame for the stuff that we’re responsible for. But … people are responsible for their own actions. And we as a community have to also build that level of responsibility about what we can do as individuals working with our communities to make them safe.”

Scott told theGrio that violence in his city is a “public health issue” and in 2022 he put together a “comprehensive prevention plan” to combat it.

“We are focusing on transforming this total ecosystem in Baltimore to build public safety, and that has been proven to have some good results for us,” he said.

In New York, the city continues to see gun violence, however, Mayor Eric Adams had focused his attention on the fact the city has seen a decrease in crime overall.

According to the New York Police Department, the city has seen a crime decrease of 1.2% from November 2021 to November 2022.

In a statement provided by Adams’ office, he said, “When I came into office last January, crime in New York City was on the rise, a trend that was being experienced nationwide. One year later, and with the help of the leadership team we put in place to tackle the public safety challenges facing our city, New York is getting safer.”

He continued, “We knew these changes wouldn’t happen overnight, but, every day, we continue to dam the many rivers that feed the sea of violence in our city with investments in both intervention and prevention.”

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