Civil rights

White House denies conflict between civil rights groups and police

Jthere is no conflict between fully funding police departments and holding police accountable, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

President Joe Biden was on his way to New York to meet Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who has vowed to tackle violent crime, when Psaki was asked if there was a conflict between groups of civil rights advocacy demanding more accountability for the police. and the actions of the Biden administration to support law enforcement.

“We reject the idea that we are moving in any political direction,” Psaki said. “The President has for decades been an advocate for fighting crime, supporting local police programs with necessary and appropriate resources and funding. He has never been an advocate for defunding police, like you you know. But his record on these issues is long his time as president.”

Several major cities moved to cut police budgets following the 2020 racial justice protests, but many are now set to restore funding to law enforcement following a spike in violent crime.

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As part of that countermovement, Biden is launching a list of new actions on Thursday aimed at addressing rising crime and gun violence in major metropolitan areas across the country. White House officials said Thursday’s new actions will advance Biden’s comprehensive strategy to address gun violence, which he released last June.

The president believes crime prevention and responsible policing go hand in hand, Psaki said, adding that further police reform can help keep everyone safe.

“[Biden] also remains very committed to taking whatever steps we can to put in place police reform measures which he says are long overdue,” Psaki said. “Obviously his preference would be to do it through the legislative process, but we are looking at what can be done through executive actions.”

Psaki was then asked why Biden wouldn’t visit Rikers Island, the notorious prison complex which a group of public defenders had asked the president to visit as part of his trip.

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“This trip today, which is a complete trip, includes the president’s visit to thank law enforcement officials and make it clear to them that he supports them,” Psaki said. “But I expect him to come back to New York during his term as president, but I don’t have any glimpse of a trip to Rikers Island.”