Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine told urban leaders meeting in Baltimore on Thursday that a Hillary Clinton administration would focus on the deep social and economic challenges that confront the nation’s cities, including a need to revamp the criminal justice system.
Speaking on criminal justice reform in a city that has wrestled with the issue for years, Kaine — a former mayor of Richmond — argued for more police training, data collection and community policing rather than “adversarial, zero tolerance” strategies.
“A profound distance has grown up between law enforcement and communities in too many places in America, and that distance is dangerous,” he said. “Let’s support independent data collection, investigation and if necessary prosecution of police involved in deaths.”
Kaine, Virginia’s junior senator, did not directly mention the death of Freddie Gray or the riots in Baltimore last year that laid bare many of the issues addressed in his speech. He said that people in Baltimore knew “very, very well” that the nation needs to “end the era of mass incarceration.”
The National Urban League is holding its annual conference in Baltimore this week more than a year after the riots last April that caused some groups to pull their conventions from the city. Though Kaine did not address the unrest directly, several conference speakers have done so. The league’s president, Marc H. Morial, spoke this week at New Shiloh Baptist Church, the site of Gray’s funeral.
Though Kaine called for a revamping the criminal justice system — and said that too many African American families were mourning the loss of a family member killed in police custody — he also praised police officers. Kaine quoted at length from an emotional Facebook post Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson wrote days before he was killed in which he discussed the difficulty of being a black law enforcement officer.
Kaine vowed that he and Clinton, the Democratic nominee, would focus on other issues important to cities, including infrastructure, housing, environmental issues and re-segregation in public schools. He received a robust round of applause for noting that Virginia, under his term as governor, formally apologized for the state’s role in slavery.
“If English lives in history matter, if Spanish lives in history matter then African American lives in history ought to matter to us, too,” he said.
Kaine met with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore later Thursday for an unannounced lunch at L.P. Steamers in Locust Point. The two met briefly with other diners – most of whom appeared to be from out of state – and then sat down to eat in the restaurant’s second floor. Aides said the two lawmakers ate crab cakes and shrimp.
Cummings said they discussed voter ID laws cropping up across the country, the economy, their shared early careers as civil rights attorneys and also Gray and how the city has reacted to the trials of the police officers who arrested the 25-year-old man.
“I thought it would be good to talk about some of the things we’re trying to do here in Baltimore,” Cummings said, such as a new requirement that new police officers spend more time on foot patrol.
SOURCE: John Fritze
The Baltimore Sun