For Immediate Release
Feb. 25, 2022
Black Faith Leaders: Elected Officials Are Alienating Black Voters With “Tough on Crime” Narrative
OAKLAND, Calif. – Weeks ahead of the first primary of the 2022 midterms, faith leaders with LIVE FREE today warned that elected officials risk losing the support of Black voters given their “tough on crime” rhetoric. The organization, which works to end gun violence and mass incarceration, released the following statement:
“Everyone wants to keep communities safe, and there are approaches to public safety that do not involve police or the criminalization of Black and Brown people,” said the Rev. Michael McBride, executive director of LIVE FREE. “To address the root causes of urban violence, policymakers must address unemployment and underemployment and the lack of affordable housing and invest in jobs that hire persons with felonies and also pay a living wage.”
“Instead of addressing the complex issues that contribute to violence, far too many elected officials, including Black officials, are turning their backs on reforms and embracing a ‘tough on crime’ approach that is reactive and ineffective,” McBride said. “We are concerned that elected leaders will experience a backlash, or low enthusiasm, among Black voters if they do not correct their narrative and alter their approach to public safety.”
LIVE FREE’s statement comes as President Biden has publicly said he opposes efforts to defund the police.
“Instead of addressing the current challenges facing Black and Brown communities, some leaders, such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams, are narrowly focused on getting more funding to police,” said Marcus McAllister, LIVE FREE.
“By speaking paternalistically about Black people, Mayor Adams is quickly becoming a media darling,” McBride said. “But Black politicians should never become the face of ‘tough on crime’ approaches when it is Black communities that disproportionately suffer from mass incarceration, which such narratives spur.”
“Although police continue to fatally shoot Black people, they are actively resisting police reform,” said Britt White, decarceration director for LIVE FREE. “Democrats cannot continue to view police as the sole authority on public safety. For instance, following the killing of George Floyd, there were multiple calls to defund the police. Moderates got scared and another Black person has died at the hands of police. We are learning that people don’t show up privately the way they do publicly.”