NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — America is in the middle of a summertime wave of gun violence after another violent weekend in big cities across the country.
The White House encouraged civic leaders to use COVID-19 relief money to help fight crime. “We’ve been at this a long time,” President Joe Biden said Monday. “A long time.”
Biden met with cops and local leaders, including New York Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams Monday.
A rise in shootings as New York City began to emerge from the pandemic helped propel a late charge for Adams, a black former police captain who rejects defund-the-police talk. Adams also says he would bring back a contentious plainclothes anti-crime unit that focused on getting guns off the streets, a unit that was disbanded amid charges that it used excessive force.
Adams beat more-liberal candidates, but his lifetime of speaking out against police misconduct and his blunt, working-class style make it difficult to pigeonhole him. He spoke frequently on the campaign trail of being beaten by police officers as a teenager and joining the force to reform it from within. And Adams, who appears to face only token Republican opposition this fall, was a founder of a group called 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care that fought against racial profiling and advocated for the hiring of more officers of color.
“My request of the president was number one, to make sure that we use the money that has been allocated to deal with underlying causes,” said Adams after Monday’s meeting. “But he must have a plan that’s prevention and intervention.”
Adams, the current Brooklyn Borough president, said, “Other communities are waking up to an alarm clock” while minority communities are “waking up to gunshots, and this president said ‘This is not good.’”
“We recognize that we have to come together to fulfill the first responsibility of a democracy; that’s to keep each other safe,” Biden said.
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The meeting was the second in just three weeks, underscoring the political concern crime has become for Democrats as they look to protect their thin margins in Congress. Big city mayors and lawmakers have sounded the alarm on the rise in crime, believed partly fueled by destabilizing forces of the pandemic, and polls suggest it is an increasing matter of concern for many Americans.
White House aides believe that Biden, with his long legislative record on crime as a former senator, is not easy to paint as soft on the issue. And the president has been clear that he is opposed to the “defund the police” movement, which has been effectively used against some Democrats to paint them as anti-law enforcement.
Outside the Cook County jail in Chicago Saturday night, 31-year-old rapper KTS Dre was shot and killed as he walked to a waiting vehicle. He had just been released from jail.
He was hit as many as 64 times.
There were at least 19 shootings In New York City over the weekend, according to NewsNation affiliate WPIX. A 13-year-old boy was among the victims.
Homicides are up 25% so far this year across Los Angeles and 50% in South Los Angeles.
The city reported a-dozen killings over the holiday weekend.
A report by the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice found homicides were up 30% nationwide in 2020. Their report said “urgent action is necessary.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer highlighted the urgency in a recent speech. “Gun violence is spiking here in New York and across the country,” he said.
The White House says there’s no one size fits all solution. It would like to see fixes tailored to the needs of specific communities around the country. Republicans call the spike in violence proof of weak Democratic policies on crime.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.