WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — President Joe Biden hit out at defenders of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol while touting his recent public safety policy victories during a visit to Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday.
“You can’t be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurgency,” Biden said.
The president also referenced the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago residence in Florida, which led to threats against the agency.
“Now it’s sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI,” Biden said, “threatening the lives of law enforcement officers and their families for simply enforcing the law and doing their job.”
The rally came amid a week of repeated trips to the state that handed Biden the White House in 2020. On Thursday, Biden will deliver a prime-time speech from Philadelphia on threats to democracy. national. He is scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh for Labor Day celebrations on Friday, the Capital-Star previously reported.
Biden spent several minutes at the end of his rally comparing his work to adding 100,000 police officers to American communities, strengthening gun control and advancing mental health issues with the rioters who stormed the capital. and those who defend them.
The president brought his legislative agenda to the Marts Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre a month after his battle with the coronavirus scuttled a previously scheduled visit.
He framed his policy as supporting robust community policing, while avoiding language that bad policing would be held accountable.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle M. Outlaw supported Biden’s argument, saying it was a step in the right direction.
Outlaw was pleased with its “global recognition that public safety is an ecosystem”.
Police, she said, must work with social services and others to keep their communities safe.
Biden repeated his 2020 campaign theme that the nation “shouldn’t defund the police, but defund the police.”
Outlaw agreed, saying many cuts have been made to departments as those same agents are asked to take on additional roles. Outlaw Department had to see its budget increase in this year’s Philadelphia city budget, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
She said Biden’s program could help community policing by getting officers out of their cars and into communities. She pointed out that you can drive around a block several times before you notice all the things you would step on.
This would help build trust, she said.
Biden didn’t just talk about law enforcement.
More than 30 years have passed since a president successfully convinced both parties in Congress to agree on gun reform.
Meanwhile, school shootings have become a constant tragedy, from Columbine and Newtown to Parkland and Uvalde, Texas.
Pennsylvania has not been spared the violence.
In 2003, a student killed himself and a principal using his father’s handguns in Red Lion, York County. And in 2006, a gunman killed five girls at West Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County.
“You have to ask,” Biden said. “Are our children learning to read in school, instead of learning to bend down and cover themselves.”
The law passed by Congress, and which Biden signed, includes enhanced background checks for buyers under 21. The law will also prohibit the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms without serial numbers.
He spoke of his meeting with parents of students who died in Uvalde, Texas, who had to submit DNA to identify their children.
He showed his exasperation.
“The DNA to say, ‘This is my baby,'” he said. “What do we do?”
About two hours before Biden arrived, Chris Walsh, a member of the Workers’ International Union of North America, took photos of his colleagues as the Marine Corps Band played songs from “Les Miserables.” Walsh said he was there “to support the president who supports the causes closest to us.”
The Dallas, Luzerne County resident also enjoyed seeing a president for the first time.
“Being from a small town, being able to see a President of the United States,” he said, “is kind of historic for me.”
Fellow LIUNA member Keith Toner echoed that sentiment.
While he supported the president’s policies, he admitted he was a little skeptical of gun legislation.
However, when it comes to schools, something has to be done.
“I think we’ve gotten to the point where we have to, unfortunately,” he said.
Before speaking to the crowd, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright, D-8th District, spoke to the Capital-Star about what he’s most proud of in the Safe Communities Act.
“Certainly, I’m all for stronger funding for community-based policing,” said Cartwright, who will face Republican Jim Bognet this fall in a rematch of their 2020 contest. does a lot of that.”
He also said he was impressed with the focus on mental health issues.
He said it could help prevent many crimes.
“This is taking strong steps to resolve this crisis,” Cartwright said.
One person who was excited to meet the president was Brooklyn Hamer, a 9-year-old who attends Robert Morris Elementary School in Scranton.
“He was friendly,” she said after taking a picture with him.
She plans to brag to her classmates about her adventures on Tuesday. After all, she said she was the first person in her class to meet the president.
Hamer’s mother, Brittani, said she was impressed with what Biden said on Tuesday.
“I totally agree with the president’s plan,” she said.
Correspondent Patrick Abdalla covers northeast Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow him on Twitter @PaddyAbs.