Roland Martin talks with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter about a new bill aimed at confronting domestic terrorism, violence and crime in America.
Mayor Nutter spoke with Roland Martin from Philadelphia to discuss the importance of his proposal in light of the violence that happens in African-American communities every day.
MR. MARTIN: Welcome back.
Here’s a quote to think about:
“Nearly 3,000 people were killed on September 11th, 2001; and in the eleven years since that tragic day, over 100,000 people have been murdered in this country, with 14,612 individuals killed in 2011 alone. Yet, there has been no comparable action taken in changing procedures, training, personnel or increasing funding similar to what occurred in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to address domestic terrorism, violence, and crime.”
Now, folks, that is from Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposal for the creation of a National Commission on Domestic Terrorism, Violence and Crime in America.
Mayor Nutter joins us from Philadelphia to talk about the importance of his proposal in light of the violence that happens in African-American communities every day.
Mayor Nutter, welcome back to “Washington Watch.”
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER: Thank you. Thank you, Roland. Thanks for having me on, and I mean you have hit the heart of what is a very serious issue all across the United States of America for all communities in all cities in our nation.
MR. MARTIN: Now, those numbers are stunning, and it’s very interesting when you look at –
MAYOR NUTTER: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — the reaction. You look at what took place in Boston. What? Three folks were killed and, of course, about 100 injured; but then you also look at West, Texas, where you had an explosion that took place. Fourteen were killed, many folks – more than 100 injured, many folks still missing. And then when you look at everyday crime. And so the reaction from media, from government is so different when it comes to how we assess death and destruction in America.
MAYOR NUTTER: The reality is that 32 Americans are killed every day in the United States of America, and so we certainly grieve – and rightly so – what happened at Sandy Hook, 20 children, six educators; the situation in Boston, hundreds hurt ‘n’ maimed, three individuals at the race killed, another MIT police officer killed, another transit officer shot.
But we essentially have a Sandy Hook Elementary School every day in the United States of America, but it’s all over the place; and it plays out in many of our cities, small, medium and large. Certainly here in Philadelphia. Violence is down, but still much too high; and in many, many cities that is the same situation.
So, we studied – as the United States, we studied 9/11 – why did it happen, how did it happen, what can we do to prevent it. We’ve put in so many different procedures. We’ve hired thousands of people. We’ve spent billions of dollars to make sure that we’re safe in the air, and that’s the right thing to do, but people also want to be safe walking down the street. And we should take the same kind of time, attention, focus and commitment to domestic terrorism – which is really what crime in America’s about – as we have to international terrorism.
We could do both. We’re a big enough country to be able to do both. We’re smart enough to do both. We just need the commitment and the intestinal fortitude – the political will – to take the necessary steps so that all Americans can be safe as they walk about their daily lives. And now is the time to formally call for the creation of a National Commission on Domestic Terrorism, Violence and Crime in America.
We have a violence problem in this country. We need to acknowledge it. We need to deal with it. It comes in many shapes and forms, but we need to put the funding behind it. We need additional personnel on the ground, some police officers, many other tools that’re available. And then properly fund it. America can be a safer country, just like we are in the air travel; but walking around, we should be safe as well.
So, there has been some positive response. We need to get the word out, and we need to keep this conversation going. It is a national crisis. It needs to be dealt with at the national level.
MR. MARTIN: When you say “funded,” the question then becomes, “Who pays for it?” The federal government? State government? You will have people who say, “Well, if there’s crime in Philadelphia, that’s the city’s problem,” or, “It’s Pennsylvania’s problem. It’s not really a taxpayer’s problem in California or Texas.”
MAYOR NUTTER: Well, when you look at what happened in Boston – unfortunately, the most recent reminder – that was certainly an impact on the city of Boston, but cities all across America – Philadelphia certainly one – everyone went on high alert. That certainly does incur additional costs, but look at the result of what happened. It was essentially video from a department store – local efforts partnered with the state and federal agencies to ultimately track down the two individuals who were responsible.
But city governments, local governments often bear the significant costs of public safety; and having additional video surveillance, having additional officers, having better coordination between and among local, state and federal authorities is, overall, good for not only rooting out domestic terrorists; but, ultimately, international terrorism as well.
So, it’s a shared expense. It’s a shared sacrifice, but it’s also a shared benefit that all of us work together and properly fund these local governments.
MR. MARTIN: When you talk about public policy and violence, that’s only a part of it; but the reality is it’s difficult to legislate, if you will, the level of violence that we see, because it’s anger management. It’s conflict resolution. It’s so many other things beyond policing.
MAYOR NUTTER: Oh, there’s no question about it. You know, here in Philadelphia, I mean the solution to violence is not just the responsibility of Police Commissioner Ramsey – our great police commissioner – and the Philadelphia Police Department. Our social service agencies play a role. Our recreation centers, our parks, after-school programs, properly funding education. There’s a wealth of responsibility that goes across our many city governments to deal with the issue of violence in our cities and violence in America.
But certainly we have to start somewhere. We were not reluctant as a country to try to deal with immediately the tragedy, the enormity of the scale of death and destruction from 9/11; and we continue to fund that, and fund it well, over these 12 years subsequent. It’s the right thing to do. No one has questioned it.
The question is, “Where is the comparable response, where is the commensurate response on the issue of domestic terrorism – the day-to-day violence that goes on?” It may not be seen on national news shows and may only get a blurb in the local newspaper if it’s, you know, of a particular shock to the conscience. But this death and destruction takes place, and it rips out the heart and soul of communities all across the United States of America.
So, we have to acknowledge that we have a violence problem in this country, and then the question is, “What are we, as Americans, prepared to do about it?”
MR. MARTIN: Well, I’ll tell you, Mayor, other national shows – they certainly don’t give much attention to it; but here on “Washington Watch,” we always do, because it impacts our community in a huge way.
We certainly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
MAYOR NUTTER: Roland, thanks a lot. I appreciate the opportunity.