In Baltimore, Tim Kaine Vows to Be Partner for Cities

John Fritze, Baltimore Sun, August 4, 2016

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.

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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.

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Kaine discussed Republican nominee Donald Trump only briefly. He reiterated criticism of Trump’s past development projects, pointing to a 1973 lawsuit filed by the Justice Department that alleged racial discrimination in Trump housing. The lawsuit was settled two years later.

“In 1973, the New York Times reported that the Justice Department had filed suit [against] Donald Trump and his father for refusing to rent apartments to African Americans,” Kaine said. “It was one of the largest federal cases of its kind at the time.”

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