Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for being here. I want to begin by thanking U.S. Attorney [Barbara] McQuade for her devoted service to the people of the Eastern District of Michigan – especially for her commitment to working with the people of Detroit to foster community trust, reduce crime and expand opportunity for all. I also want to thank Mayor [Mike] Duggan and Chief [James] Craig for their hospitality in welcoming me to Detroit, for their outstanding leadership of this proud city and for their tireless efforts to restore bonds of mutual respect between local law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.
That work has never been more urgent. And it has rarely felt more difficult. The tragic events of the past month have offered a sobering reminder of how much remains to be done before every American – whether they wear the badge or depend on it for protection – enjoys the safety, the security and the respect that they deserve. In the wake of events like those we have experienced recently, it can be easy to lose sight of the way forward. It can feel as if there is nothing we can do to stop the violence that claims too many lives; to ease the suspicion that infects too many hearts; and to lift the fear that grips too many communities.
Those feelings are understandable – but we must not surrender to them. Progress is hard and its course is often uncertain. But I remain firmly convinced that progress is possible – and the Department of Justice remains staunchly committed to advancing that progress. Earlier today, I convened the first in a series of gatherings we are holding around the nation – called Justice Forums – as a sign of that commitment. The purpose of these forums is to bring together local stakeholders in order to critically examine police-community issues, to open new channels for dialogue and exchange and to commit to specific solutions that communities can pursue with the ongoing support of the Justice Department. I was encouraged by the passion, the goodwill and the spirit of openness that defined this morning’s meeting and I look forward to continuing these discussions around the country in the weeks ahead.
Of course, the Justice Department’s work here in Detroit is designed to support the efforts already underway thanks to the leadership of Mayor Duggan and Chief Craig. During my visit here, I’ve had a chance to get a firsthand look at some their initiatives. Yesterday, I attended the 6th and 8th Precincts’ joint National Night Out festivities, where I saw officers and residents playing basketball, swapping jokes and stories and enjoying the opportunity to get to know one another as friends and neighbors. And later today, I will attend a BRIDGES meeting between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement leaders and representatives of Detroit’s vibrant Arab and Muslim American community, which is a model of how local authorities can proactively connect with the families and neighborhoods they serve.
These are examples of the kind of inspiring programs that I have seen in towns and cities across the United States during my time as Attorney General. I have seen police officers serving as tutors and mentors in classrooms in Cincinnati, Ohio and learning how to de-escalate tense situations in Phoenix, Arizona. I have seen high school students helping shape law enforcement policy as members of the police chief’s youth advisory board in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Time and time again, I have seen Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds coming together around the recognition that ultimately, all of us want to be heard; all of us want to be safe; and all of us want to live alongside our fellow Americans not in fear and suspicion, but in harmony, trust and cooperation. That life of safety and dignity is the promise of our country. It is the goal that we seek for ourselves and for our children. And it is the dream I am confident we will continue to make real for more and more of our people in the days to come.
Once again, I want to thank the people of Detroit for welcoming me here. I want to thank you and the people of your neighboring communities for your willingness to do the hard work of making our reality more closely reflect our ideals. And I want to pledge the full support of the Department of Justice in that noble effort. Thank you.