During a Sunday town hall alongside three other black female mayors of major cities, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser discussed protests, the pandemic and police funding.
Bowser said on CNN that when it comes to police reform and investments in the force, funding has only increased by 12%, while investments in education have gone up 40%. She also said funding for Health and Human Services, which includes homelessness, has gone up over 70%.
“We have to look at everything that we’re investing in and make sure that we’re investing in opportunity programs like education and job training but also intervention. Like mental health professionals in schools,” she added, while stressing that public safety is more than policing.
The town hall also included Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
When asked about how officers are held accountable for racially motivated deaths and beatings of citizens, Bowser pointed to the District’s focus on police reform over the past 18 years, which has led to changes like requiring officers to be equipped with body cameras.
She also pointed out the need for mayors and police chiefs to have access to the tools necessary to implement discipline and for prosecutors to be held responsible when officers are charged.
“In D.C., we have an extra wrinkle in that because those prosecutors are federal,” Bowser added.
On the issue of protests and the pandemic, Bowser said she does have concerns around the spread of coronavirus, but protesters are not to blame as demonstrations continue.
“Before these protests, we were seeing spikes. The reopening of America, in some cases early, has already generated an increase of cases,” Bowser said.
And when asked about the challenges of leading during a time like this as a black woman, Bowser said female leaders bring a type of engagement that gets to the meat of a city’s needs.
“We just have to use all of our skills, we have to be smarter, work harder and make sure that we’re representing the views of all of our communities.”
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