Michael Dukakis, the Democrat who lost the 1988 presidential election to George H.W. Bush, is warning his party that the defund-the-police movement undermine the gains Democrat have made.
In an interview with The Hill, Dukakis called the movement “nuts.”
“On one hand, you have folks screaming and yelling about getting rid of policing, which makes no sense at all. And then on the other hand, you have some people totally misrepresenting what community policing is, just as we were making huge progress,” he told The Hill.
Dukakis’ White House bid was scuttled in part by a GOP attack ad about Willie Horton, a man who had been convicted of murder in Massachusetts. He was furloughed in 1986 under a weekend-release program supported by Dukakis, who was then governor, and committed a rape. The ad used the tragic episode to portray Dukakis as a dyed in the wool liberal who was weak on law enforcement.
Dukakis tells The Hill he thinks the Democrat in the White House, Joe Biden, understands what he’s concerned about.
“I think he gets it and understands it. I’m not sure he and for that matter my party is articulating it very well.”
The heart of the matter, Dukakis explained, is about establishing trust between the police and the community.
Biden has announced a strategy focusing on five key things:
- Reduce the flow of firearms used to commit violence.
- Support local law enforcement with federal resources to address summer and violent crime.
- Invest in evidence-based community violence interventions.
- Expand summer programming, employment opportunities and support for teens and young adults.
- Help formerly incarnated individuals re-enter their communities.
The Treasury Department has offered guidance so that communities with an increase in gun violence because of the pandemic can use American Rescue Plan funds for policing efforts. The Office of Personal Management is considering removing barriers for employment to those formerly incarcerated.
In announcing his plan last week, Biden said his administration will organize and support a community violence intervention collaborative program in more than 12 jurisdictions. Leaders in those areas have committed to using a portion of their American Rescue Plan funding and other funding to increase investment in community violence intervention programs, reports CNN.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who also spoke at last week’s rollout, said, “The Justice Department’s violent crime reduction, and our initiatives to stem the rising tide of illegal guns, will save lives. But these steps alone not solve the problem of violent crime. Success depends on all of us joining together – those of you in this room, the many like you across the country who are working to keep communities safe, and the people of our communities themselves.”
Some are still critical of plans that involve more law enforcement. In an article in Mother Jones, Udi Ofer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Justice Division said, “I laud Biden’s emphasis on funding community programs to address the root cause of gun violence, but government efforts targeting drug and weapons traffickers often result in over policing of low-income communities of color.”
Ofer pointed to a 2019 plan in Washington, D.C. where a plan to crack down on gun violence was selectively enforced in three predominantly Black neighborhoods rather than citywide.
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