Former Secretary of State Colin Powell sat down for an interview with Mic in New York during the 20th anniversary of Summit for America’s Promise Alliance, a group that Powell founded in order “to create the conditions of success for all young people, including the millions currently being left behind. During the aforementioned interview Powell had a very serious message for current Attorney General Jeff Sessions — that he’s being closely watched.
The summit this year focused on the increased rates of young people who are experiencing trouble with the law and are having encounters in the criminal justice system, at increasingly low ages. According to Powell the Trump administration should be taking more initiative to reduce these rates. Instead what Sessions did was pen an op-ed earlier this week in USA Today, calling for an increase in what he referred to as “proactive policing” and a reduction of “harmful federal intrusion” to make a stronger defence against what he referred to as a surge in violent crimes in various American cities. To put this into simpler terms, Trump and Sessions want there to be more arrests in urban centers, and do not want anyone complaining about it.
Powell is urging Americans to “watch very carefully and, if people think that what he’s doing is inconsistent with what we need to be doing, then we will speak out,” in regards to Attorney General Sessions.
The crime rates in America are near historic all-time lows, which is well known by the Trump administration, and that is what makes their sudden talk on crime especially odd. Sessions personally told a group of federal and local law enforcement officers in march that “Overall, crime rates in our country remain near historic lows. Murder rates are half of what they were in 1980. The rate of violent crime has fallen by almost half from its peak.”
During the same speech however, Sessions made a point to bring up the one exception to these decade-long trends that appear to be the basis for the sudden reforms to policing and incarceration they are hoping to instate. Sessions said “The latest FBI data tell us that from 2014 to 2015, the violent crime rate in the U.S. increased by more than 3 percent — the largest one-year increase since 1991.”
The statistics cited by Session are accurate, but don’t tell the entire tale. The increases in crime were most likely attributed to a handful of cities- including Chicago, Baltimore, St.Louis and Milwaukee- that have seen increases in crime. The rest of the country aside from these few cities has never in recent history seen such lows. Even New York — the nation’s largest city — saw a record low during the years that Sessions cites (2014-2015.)
To Attorney General Sessions none of this seems to be relevant. He believes that more incarceration and less questioning of the police are the answer the problem, also believing that anyone who dares disagree with that premise is anti-police.
Powell’s not taking this sitting down. While he does intend to keep a watchful eye on police, he has made it quite clear that that does not make him anti-police. He stated:
‘You can’t say, “We should disinvest the criminal justice, police and courts.” They’re there not just to protect white folks. They’re there to protect black folks as well. What they want is fair and balanced justice treatment for all Americans.’
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