Public Papers

Remarks at the East Dallas Renaissance Neighborhood Project in Dallas, Texas


The President. Thank you so much. I love what Michael Fells said about his house. That's the way we all ought to feel about our homes. And I was very proud of that.

Thanks to all of you for this great Dallas welcome. May I salute your wonderful Mayor, an old friend of mine and Barbara's, Steve Bartlett, doing an outstanding job for this wonderful area, this wonderful city. Also I want to salute Judge Lee Jackson and your Congressman, a Congressman, not this district but right next door, Sam Johnson, doing a fine job for Dallas. May I salute our sheriff, Sheriff Bowles, and our new police chief from Dallas, been here a while, doing a great job with the law enforcement community, Chief Bill Rathburn over here.

While I'm in the neighborhood, I want to recognize Meadows Foundation for their work restoring homes, restoring hope in this community. I saw a little bit of that when Steven here and Dirk and Cheryl, Cheryl Harley, showed me around this house that they are fixing to restore. So I'm just delighted to be here. Also pleased to welcome a cross-town guest from west Dallas, Mr. Artrous Hill, who for 41 years ran the barber-shop on Puget Street. When the drug epidemic came to west Dallas, Mr. Hill's landlords were the local crack dealers until U.S. marshals and the Dallas police put them out of business.

Audience member. Chicken George, why don't you debate?

The President. [Laughter] Listen to this guy. There are going to be debates.

May I say a word about the chicken question? May I say a word about -- you're talking about the draft record chicken or are you talking about the chicken in the Arkansas River? Which one are you talking about? Which one? Get out of here. Maybe it's the draft. Is that what's bothering you?

All right now. As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, I was telling about Mr. Hill who owns his own barber shop. His west Dallas neighborhood is on the way back, on the way back just the way all of you here in east Dallas are on the move forward.

You know, I came here to talk about the progress we're making in our quest to make America more safe and secure. But first let me just say a word about the dominant issue in this campaign, and that's the economy.

The American voter this year is confronted with two choices, two candidates with two very different economic strategies. If Governor Clinton is elected, by next year we will have hundreds of billions of new Government spending, higher taxes on the middle class, and no restraints on Federal spending, and even more pressure on the Federal deficit.

So Governor Clinton claims he knows a way to reduce the budget deficit by increasing taxes on the middle class and giving Congress more of your money to spend. I believe the way to reduce the deficit is by making tough choices and cutting Government spending.

That's why we put forward a plan, a serious program to control the growth of spending with almost 0 billion in savings over 5 years. I've gone on the record, targeted 246 programs, 4,000 wasteful projects that I want to eliminate altogether. I want to use these savings to reduce the deficit, to reduce the tax burden on the working men and women, and still do what's right by our neighborhoods.

You know, this is a tough time for the world economy. But the brighter days are right here around the corner, and America can and will lead the way forward if we make the right choices this November.

Whether it's the building of a strong economy or strengthening our families or keeping our streets safe, I put my trust in the people. That's why I am delighted to be here today to salute all of you for helping take this community back, helping make east Dallas a safe place to live, to raise kids, to stake a claim on the American dream.

The neighbors we've seen and the neighbors I've heard from -- I don't care about the politics -- they are doing what is right. They are here to help build a neighborhood and protect their homes. Now, this community is one community that is breaking out of the cycle of violence in America.

You know, in the past year, overall crime in the city of Dallas is down 13.7 percent. Violent crime, murder, rape, robbery, assault, has dropped 14.1 percent. That is good news. It represents thousands of hours of hard work for the Dallas police, for the sheriff's department, for the crime watch groups like Mill Creek and others all across Dallas. You deserve to be congratulated -- right there.

But it does not make the crimes that take place every day any less real. The building behind us here brought the reality of crime close to home, literally, right next door. You know the Mohawk as a crime haven, a crime den, a crack den, not as home but as a house of horror. Some weekend nights, I'm told, as many as a hundred cars line Swiss Avenue, bringing customers in search of heroin and crack and marijuana. Addicts used to roam this neighborhood, offering to do odd jobs for , the price of a crack high.

One day a crackhead fired a gun at Michael Fells as he was sitting on his front porch. And in 2 months' time last spring police made more than 200 arrests at that one address alone. But all that has changed. The morning of June 5, the day U.S. marshals and Dallas police swept in and seized this building, that day many of you came out to cheer, to celebrate the day that the law came back to this street. Today the Mohawk doesn't just have a history, it has a future.

But, you know, the change taking place here is just the beginning. Each one of you is going to have to do your part in taking back the streets and then keeping this community crime free. I'm here today to tell you as President, we can help. The key is a new approach, one that combines a no-nonsense approach to crime with social programs that promise real help. Too often in the past we've pursued our social programs and our law enforcement efforts on totally separate tracks. As a result, many of our urban revitalization efforts are cut short by crime.

You know, what I'm talking about is this: We build public housing only to see these buildings taken over as crack houses. We build model schools only to see them become war zones where fear follows teachers and students right into the classroom. Then we build playgrounds for children only to see them become battlegrounds for drug pushers. When a neighborhood is overridden by crime, businesses are driven away, taking jobs and opportunities with them.

We're tackling each one of these issues, each one of these problems, with a new approach that we call ``Weed and Seed.'' ``Weed and Seed'' is not so much a new spending program as a whole new method of operating. Let me tell you how it works. As the first step, Federal, State, and local enforcement officers concentrate their efforts on neighborhoods like this one. Working with you, the community, they ``weed'' out the gangs, the criminals and the crackheads and the drug dealers. As the streets are reclaimed from the criminals, community policing is put in place to help hold every inch of the ground that we've taken. Police commanders attend community meetings; officers patrol neighborhoods on foot; and residents feel safe knowing who is on the beat in their area.

Finally, the broad array of Federal, State, and local government and private sector community revitalization programs are brought to bear on the community, to ``seed'' in long-term stability, growth, and opportunity. Drug prevention programs, Head Start, job training, health care programs, community development grants, all are applied together in one place and at one time in a true working partnership with the community.

``Weed and Seed'' is already up and running in Fort Worth and in 19 other cities across the country. This year I asked the Congress for 0 million to fund ``Weed and Seed'' programs in 50 or more communities. I know east Dallas would like to be one of them. Congress has appropriated the money, but they have not authorized it. I wouldn't bother you with these fine congressional distinctions, but I have to because unless Congress acts, Dallas or any American city for that matter won't get one single dollar of what it needs.

You need help, and you need it now. If you work the late shift at some convenience store, you shouldn't have to worry about whether you're going to be safe walking home. If you're sitting on your porch, you shouldn't have to be on the lookout for a car full of hoods with a gun. If you need to run out for milk and bread late at night, you shouldn't have to worry about who you'll run into at the corner of Swiss and Moreland. This is your home and your community and the place your children play. You deserve to be safe here.

It pains me to say that every day we're being forced to learn a new vocabulary for crime. Back in Washington we've had a wave of what they now call carjackings, where a criminal steals a car, not when it's parked but when you're sitting in a parking lot or waiting at a red light. Just this month, carjackers stole the car of a woman taking her small daughter to her first day of preschool. They dragged the woman to her death and tossed her little baby out of the window. Something is wrong in our cities, something is wrong in our society when crimes like that are commonplace. We will not and cannot stand by and see innocent people terrorized, innocent people paralyzed by fear. We've got to be tougher on the criminals. Carjackers or crack dealers, whatever the crime may be, we've got to draw the line. I ask you to get Congress to give me the support we need to draw the line against them.

But this we know: Tough talk won't do it. My opponent in this Presidential race talks a tough game, but I would like you just for a minute to take a look at the Arkansas record and see where Governor Clinton stands. The average inmate in Arkansas served less than one-fifth of his sentence last year. Most Federal inmates serve 85 percent of their sentence. Violent crimes in Arkansas went up almost 60 percent in the eighties, over twice the national average. Arkansas had the Nation's biggest increase in overall crime and the third biggest in violent crime. This kind of record is not right for Arkansas, and it is not right for America.

Just ask the Fraternal Order of Police in Little Rock, Arkansas. They know Governor Clinton's record best, and they're endorsing me for President. I'm very proud of that endorsement.

As President, I pushed Congress to put tough talk aside and take action. I sent my comprehensive crime package to Congress more than 3 years ago, June 15th, 1989, to be exact. What's happened since then? The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Soviet communism, the invasion and the liberation of Kuwait, and Congress has sat on my crime package for 1,201 days, 1,201 days. In those 1,201 days here in Dallas alone, 1,441 people have been murdered. In those 1,201 days, 3,997 have been raped. All told, in those 1,201 days, 79,903 have been victims of violent crime.

Each one of those days, another innocent person becomes a statistic. We do not have another day to waste. We need this comprehensive crime package. We need more prisons, more police, more swift and certain punishment. We need a Federal death penalty for cop killers and drug kingpins. Tough new provisions against sex crimes and domestic violence, we need that also. We need to make carjacking a Federal offense, apply Federal racketeering laws to help us go after gangs. We need to strike a blow for responsibility by using Federal law to enforce child support payments from all those deadbeat fathers.

We must get reforms. I believe in backing up our police officers, and we need reforms to put a stop to the endless appeals that make a mockery of justice for the victims of crime. We need reforms that slam shut the revolving door of justice that far too often lets these criminals go free.

What you're doing here puts you on the side of the angels. But you cannot do it alone. You can't do it if the system mocks the victims and if criminals own the streets and law-abiding citizens are prisoners in their own homes.

Let's get our cities and our citizens and our cops the help that they need, the help they must have to drive crime and drugs off our streets and out of our lives, here in east Dallas and all across the United States of America. Let's make some changes in Congress and clean House. Absolutely!

Thank you for this wonderful, warm welcome of east Dallas. It's a privilege to spend this time in your community. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:45 p.m. at Swiss Avenue. In his remarks, he referred to Michael Fells, resident and member of the Mill Creek Homeowners Association; Lee Jackson, Dallas County judge; and Steven Hugh, Dirk Newton, and Cheryl Harley, co-owners, 4514 Swiss Avenue apartment complex renovation project.