Washington, D.C. – PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Nice place. Wow. I’ve been hearing about this one. Great job. (Laughter.) Great job. Thank you very much for being here. It’s an honor. And very important time in our country. A lot of things are happening. And I think when it all ends up, it’s going to end up very good for everybody.
It’s an honor to be at Gateway Church with the Attorney General — our great Attorney General, William Barr. Thank you. (Applause.) And my friend, Ben Carson, who’s done a fantastic job at HUD. Secretary. (Applause.) And a young star, Jerome Adams, General. Where is Jerome? Jerome? (Applause.) Along with a lot of my friends out in the audience.
In fact, a lot of the great political leaders from Texas, I see. Some great, great friends.
And I want to thank you all for being here: faith leaders; members of law enforcement, so important. We want law and order. We have to have a lot of good things, but we have to have law and order. (Applause.)
Got to have some strength. You have to have strength. You have to do what you have to do. And you look at a Seattle — we just came in; we just see over the screen, and we’ve been hearing about it. Bill and I were talking about it: the law and order. Look at what happened in Seattle: They took over a city. A city. A big city — Seattle. Took a chunk of it — a big chunk. Can’t happen. That couldn’t happen here, I don’t think, in the state of Texas, could it? (Laughter.) I don’t think so. (Applause.) I don’t think so.
So I want to thank Pastors Robert Morris and Steve Dulin. They’re great people. (Applause.) Great people with a great reputation. I have to say that. Great reputation. And Gateway Church — the team has been incredible in hosting us.
And I’d now like to ask Pastor Morris and Bishop Jackson to lead us in prayer. Thank you.
PASTOR MORRIS: Thank you.
Lord, we need you. We need you at this time in our country. And I thank you for our President. I thank you, Lord, for our leaders. I thank you, thank you, thank you.
I know in the Bible that, when something was emphasized, it was repeated: “holy, holy, holy.” Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord, that we are about to bring tremendous progress to a problem that’s been here for a long time. And I thank you for this administration. And, Lord, we pray your blessings and your guidance today on this meeting, in Jesus name.
BISHOP JACKSON: Father, we thank you so much for what you’re doing today. You have revealed so many things that are untoward, even evil. But we ask, according to Isaiah 50, verse 4, that you would give us the tongue of the learned that we should know how to speak to the heart of this nation.
Give us a word in season to Him that’s weary, and waken us morning by morning, God, that we would hear and speak. We have a great, courageous President who’s a problem solver. And let him speak as your mouthpiece and act as your instrument. And we thank you for this time. Amen.
AUDIENCE: Amen. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Bishop. Thank you. Thank you very much. I want to thank you, Bishop, and thank you very much, Pastor. That’s great. And we’re going to be
discussing some pretty important things today, I think. It’s all important, but the timing of this is very appropriate. This was set up, actually, a long time ago, but the timing is very appropriate.
We are here to listen to community and faith leaders — going to be hearing from a lot of the good ones; some of the great ones, but a lot of the good ones — and to present our vision of advancing the cause of justice and freedom.
From day one, I’ve been fighting for the forgotten men and women of America, and I think we’ve been doing a great job of it. We’ve been doing a lot in many other ways, but it gets lost a little bit sometimes. Bishop, you know that. It gets lost. We’ve done so much. And a lot of the things that we’ve done that we’re very proud of gets lost. Like, we got criminal justice reform passed, and they’ve been trying to do it for many years — (applause) — and they haven’t been able to do get it passed.
We secured permanent and record-setting funding for HBCUs. That’s historically black colleges and universities. (Applause.) It’s all done.
We created tens of thousands of jobs with Opportunity Zones. Tim Scott. And we had a great senator from South Carolina that many of you know. He came with an idea, and I thought it was a great idea, and we got it done. A lot of people said that could never happen, but nobody thought it would be successful like it is. Tens of thousands of jobs and investment in communities where that money wouldn’t go.
And we achieved the lowest black unemployment in the history of our country, prior to the plague coming in from China. (Applause.) And we’ll get it back again soon. It’ll happen soon. That’ll happen very soon.
In recent days, there have been vigorous discussion about how to ensure fairness, equality, and justice for all of our people. Unfortunately, there are some trying to stoke division and to push an extreme agenda, which we won’t go for, that will produce only more poverty, more crime, more suffering. This includes radical efforts to defund, dismantle, and disband the police. They want to get rid of the police forces. They actually want to get rid of it. And that’s what they do, and that’s where they go. And you know that, because at the top position, there’s not going to be much leadership; there’s not much leadership left.
Instead, we have to go the opposite way. We must invest more energy and resources in police training and recruiting and community engagement. We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They’re protecting us. And if they’re allowed to do their job, they’ll do a great job. And you always have a bad apple, no matter where you go. You have bad apples. And there are not too many of them. And I can tell you there are not too many of them in the police department. We all know a lot of members of the police.
I was listening today; a friend of mine was on. A very important person said some of the best people he’s ever met are policemen, law enforcement people. And they’re taking care of people that, in many cases, they never even met before, and at great danger, at great risk. They get shot for no reason whatsoever, other than they’re wearing blue. They get knifed. You saw that the other night. It was a horrible thing.
But there is no opportunity without safety. In Chicago, 48 people were shot, and 18 people were killed in one day. Sunday, May 31st. Think of that. Forty-eight people shot; eighteen people killed. You don’t hear about it too much.
Every child should be able to grow up in a safe community, free from violence and fear. They’ve taken a lot of the police protection away in Chicago, and they have great, great police in Chicago. I know Chicago very well, but they’re not allowed to do what they can do better than anybody. They could do the job very easily.
Americans are good and virtuous people. We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear. But we’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots. We have to get everybody together. We have to be on the same — the same path, I think, Pastor. If we don’t do that, we have — we have problems. And we’ll do that. We’ll do it. I think we’re going to do it very easily. It’ll go quickly and it’ll go — it’ll go very easily.
We have so many different elements of strength in this country. We have such potential in this country. We have the greatest potential. We have the greatest country in the world. But we get off subject. We start thinking about things that don’t matter or don’t matter much. And the important things, we don’t even discuss. But we’re here to discuss some very important things.
Today, politicians make false charges, and they’re trying to distract from their own failed records. They have some very bad records. And these are usually the ones that cause the problems or can’t solve the problems. These are the same politicians who shipped our jobs away and took tremendous advantage of all Americans. But African American middle class — so much of that wealth and that money and those jobs went to China and other countries. And they get trapped. They get trapped. They get trapped in a government morass. They get trapped in bad government schools.
So I’m going to be announcing four steps to build safety and opportunity and dignity:
First, we’re aggressively pursuing economic development in minority communities. We’re doing it very powerfully. We’ve done it with Opportunity Zones, but we’re going to go above that. At the heart of this effort is increasing access to capital for small businesses, and that’s with minority owners in black communities. And we’re going to get it done, and it should have been done a long time ago. It’s been very difficult — very, very difficult for some people. It’s been unfairly difficult.
Second, we are confronting the healthcare disparities, including addressing chronic conditions and investing substantial sums in minority-serving medical institutions. We have medical institutions in some areas of our country that are a disgrace. I was going to say “not up to standard.” They’re much worse than “not up to standard.” They’re a disgrace. We’ll take care of it.
Third, we’re working to finalize an executive order that will encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation.
Also, we’ll encourage pilot programs that allow social workers to join certain law enforcement officers so that they work together.
We’ll take care of our police. We’ll take — we’re not defunding police. If anything, we’re going the other route: We’re going to make sure that our police are well trained — perfectly trained, they have the best equipment. (Applause.)
Some of the things that we have heard — because I know a lot of the people in the audience, and they’re professionals at what they do, and they’re successful people, and we’re hearing things that are not even thinkable. I didn’t even hear — I’ve never even heard of this before last week. It was like — it started about a week ago, where I heard they want to close up all police forces. That’s what their attack on a very liberal governor in the state of Washington is: “We want the police force closed.”
It’s not like they want to, sort of, bring a little money into something else; they want it actually closed. I’m thinking, “What happens late at night when you make that call to 911 and there’s nobody there?” What do you have — what do you do? (Applause.) Whether you’re white, black, or anybody else, I mean, what do you do? You’re dialing, and there’s somebody breaking into a house, and it happens to be a violent person. There are violent people around, Pastor. Even you will admit that, right?
PASTOR MORRIS: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: We want to think the best — (laughter) — but you have some very violent people. And when they’re breaking into your house at 12 o’clock in the evening, and you’re sitting there, and you don’t have a police force, they’re actually think- — they’re actually talking about not having a police force. Well, that’s not happening with us. We’re going to have stronger police forces because that’s what you need.
In Minneapolis, they went through three nights of hell. And then I was insistent on having the National Guard go in and do their work. It was like a miracle. It just — everything stopped. And I’ll never forget the scene. It’s not supposed to be a beautiful scene, but, to me, it was — after you watch policemen running out of a police precinct.
And it wasn’t their fault. They wanted to do what they had to do, but they weren’t allowed to do anything. It wasn’t really their fault. But they were running down the street. They weren’t allowed to do what they’re trained to do. And they took over the precinct. They burned it — essentially burned it down. I’m pretty good at construction. I want to tell you: That was almost what we call a complete renovation, if you’re lucky. (Laughter.)
And it was a very sad thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that.
But we are very proud of the fact that I called — I said, “I’m sorry. We have to have them go in.” And they went in, and it was like a knife cutting butter — right through. Boom. I’ll never forget. You saw the scene: on that road, wherever it may be, in the city — Minneapolis. They were lined up. Boom — they just walked straight. And, yes, there was some tear gas and probably some other things, and the crowd dispersed, and they went through it. By the end of that evening — and it was a short evening — everything was fine and you didn’t hear too much about that location having problems anymore; they went to other locations.
And the same thing would happen. As an example, Seattle would be so easy to solve. It would be so easy to solve. We have a governor here of a great state; it’s called Texas. He would solve it very easily — (applause) — as would — as would other of your — as would other of your political leaders, including your lieutenant governor. They would solve it very easily.
It’s — a lot of it is common sense. I don’t even think it’s courage. I think it’s probably more courageous the other way, because I wouldn’t want to be doing it the other way. It’s very unsafe.
So I just want to tell you that we’re working on a lot of different elements having to do with law, order, safety, comfort, control. But we want safety. We want compassion. We want everything.
What happened two weeks ago was a disgrace when you see that. What happened on numerous occasions over the last two weeks — people were killed. A number of people were killed and it was very, very terrible and very, very unfair. A number of them were police officers. And it was a very unfair situation. We don’t want to see that.
And with strength, you wouldn’t even have that. They wouldn’t be in a position to do the kind of damage that they’ve done. They’ve destroyed people. They’ve destroyed businesses. They’ve destroyed African-American-owned small businesses that, hopefully, they’re going to come back. We’re providing funding for a lot of small businesses, and hopefully we’ll be able to get everybody online and get funding to be able to open up their stores and their small businesses again.
But we’re working to finalize an executive order that will encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards of force. And that means force, but force with compassion. But if you’re going to have to really do a job — if somebody is really bad, you’re going to have to do it with real strength, real power.
And I said — and people said, “Oh, I don’t know if we like that expression.” I said, “We have to dominate the streets.” You can’t let that happen, what happened in New York City — the damage they’ve done. You have to dominate the streets. (Applause.)
And I was criticized for that statement. I made the statements, “We have to dominate the street.” And they said, “Oh that’s such a terrible thing.” Well, guess what? You know who dominated the streets? People that you don’t want to dominate the streets, and look at the damage they did.
So I’ll stick with that, and I think most of the people in this room — maybe every person in this room — will stick with that. And we’re doing it with compassion, if you think about it. We’re dominating the street with compassion, because we’re saving lives and we’re saving businesses. We’re saving families from being wiped out after working hard for 20 and 30 years. I saw the one woman: She worked 35 years building a store, and in one night, in was totally wiped out. It’s terrible.
And, fourth, we’re renewing our call on Congress to finally enact school choice now. School choice is a big deal — (applause) — because access to education is the civil rights issue of our time. And I’ve heard that for the last, I would say, year. But it really is; it’s the civil rights issue of our time. When you can have children go to a school where their parents want them to go. And it creates competition. And other schools fight harder because, all of a sudden, they say, “Wow. We’re losing it. We have to fight hard.” It gets better in so many different ways.
But there are groups of people against that. You have unions against it. You have others against it. And they’re not against it for the right reasons. They’re against it for a lot of the wrong reasons. And we’re going to get that straightened out. Now, we’ve done a lot of it. We’ve had tremendous success with choice.
We had choice in a lot of ways. We also have choice in the military. You know, before I came here, the vets would wait on line, Pastor. They’d be waiting — you — it wouldn’t be acceptable to you. I know it wouldn’t be acceptable to the Bishop. I know it’s not going to be acceptable to you. They’d wait for four or five weeks to get on line — a vet — where they were sick. They were feeling badly, and they’d get on line, and they’d say, “There’s a six-day wait, sir.” “There’s a two-week wait.” “There’s a one-month wait.” And you’d have people on line that weren’t very ill, and they’d be terminally ill before they got to see a doctor, and they’d die.
And for years and years, they’ve been trying to get Veterans Choice. That means if you can’t get to a doctor reasonably quickly, you go outside, you go to a local doctor around where you live, and the government pays the bill. And, by the way, it sounds expensive; it’s very cheap, by comparison. It’s actually much better. Now, most importantly, we take care of our vets. By far, most importantly. (Applause.)
But it’s one of those many cases where it’s actually less costly and better. Sometimes you’ll see a building — it costs less money than another building that costs more, because the one that built the one that cost more, this one looks better. The one that’s cheaper, it looks better. They say, “How much more did you spend for that building?” Actually, we spent less. You can do that. It’s called: “You have to know what you’re doing” — (laughter) — if you know what you’re doing. That’s only good for the real estate people in here, of which there are plenty, by the way.
So I just want to thank everybody. This is a tremendous place. This is a great city. This is a great, great city and with tremendous people and tremendous pride. And I say the same for the state of Texas. You know, your governor came to me, and he said — when you had your bad hurricane two years ago, I gave so much money to Texas. More — he kept coming: “More.” (Laughter.) “How about here? How about…”
So, finally, you know, though, we took good care of Texas. Is that right?
PASTOR MORRIS: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: We took such good care of Texas. They were looking for the next hurricane. They said, “When’s the next hurricane?” (Laughter and applause.) But they had a big one. And they say you had the largest water dump ever. It just didn’t stop. It came in, and you thought it was gone, and then it went back out and it reloaded, right? And it happened three times.
And your governor came, and he wanted to build a barrier so that water would hit the barrier, it wouldn’t come into certain parts of Texas. He called me, he said, “Sir, I just have one more request.” This is after we gave $28 billion. So, $28 billion. I mean, we watch the pennies, but when it comes to Texas, we don’t watch them too closely, okay? (Laughter and applause.)
And he said — Governor Abbott — he said, “Just one more request, and it’s a very small one, sir. We have a way of building a wall. It goes up and down. It moves with the tides.” I said, “That sounds expensive to me.” “It moves with the tides, and it’s not a lot of money. Could I ask you to do me one small favor and approve it?” I said, “How much is it?” “Sir, it’s only $10 billion.” (Laughter.) And I said, “Start working on it.” Right? I said, “Start working on it,” because we can do things to get rid of those.
You have some — you get hit pretty hard here. They get hit pretty hard here, don’t they? Were you affected very much when you had — during the hurricanes itself?
PASTOR MORRIS: We had a lot of people who were displaced that came to this area.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Well, we took good care of everybody.
PASTOR MORRIS: Yes, you did.
THE PRESIDENT: So, I just want to say this is one of my favorite places. I know we’re doing very well here.
During the last process, they kept saying that Texas was too close to call. And friends of mine in Texas would say, “It’s not too close to call. You’re going to win in a landslide.” And I said, “Well, they keep saying…” — (applause). They had — one man got on television, actually, and he said, “I don’t know where you come from, but I don’t think this is too close to call. I think he’s going to win by a lot.” We won by a lot. It was eight o’clock and the polls were closed. And they said, “Donald Trump has won the state of Texas.” (Applause.) And he said it simultaneously. So —
And we’re doing good here again, but, you know, one of the things, I have to say — because this is big oil territory — I think we’ve done a fantastic job with bringing back the oil in a rapid fashion. That looked pretty bad. That’d look pretty bad. (Applause.)
You had a case — you had a couple of hours where if you bought a barrel of oil, you bought it for $37 — as if they gave you $37. Okay? There’s never been a thing like that ever. And now I see that it’s getting close to $40 a barrel and you’re back in business, and we got it done fast and we got Russia together with Saudi Arabia, and they cut production. And they got it back fast, and we’re very, very proud of it.
The supply changed rapidly with COVID-19, or whatever you want to call it. I had never heard so many names. You have about 30 names you can call this thing. (Laughter.) All I — I call it “the plague from China.” (Laughter.) “The plague.” (Laughter and applause.) And it’s not good. And it’s not good. And it’s — it could have been stopped. It could have been stopped in China, but they decided not to do that. And we’ll have to figure that one out, won’t we?
So I just want to thank everybody very much for being here. This is a very spectacular place. And I want to introduce Attorney General Barr and Secretary Carson to say a few words, along with the Surgeon General, who has been a real young star in the administration. And, please, if I could, Bill? Take over, please. Thank you very much.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for convening this discussion. And I’d like to thank the many impressive leaders — civic leaders, religious leaders, and colleagues from law enforcement — who are here.
That ghastly spectacle in Minneapolis was really jarring to the whole nation, and it forced us to confront and think about, reflect on longstanding issues in our nation. Those issues obviously relate to the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community.
But just to step back a little and take a broader view initially, I’ve been thinking about how do we achieve the full American Dream for all communities. African American communities, all communities. And one of the reasons I’m proud to serve in this administration is because I think the President is moving forward on the critical elements necessary to provide and ensure that opportunity.
First and foremost, economic growth. Without growth, there is no opportunity. Second — (applause) — second, education. I think Condi Rice said a few years ago it’s the civil rights issue of our time. Because without a good education, they are not allowing our young people to seize their opportunities and pursue their dreams. (Applause.)
And as the President mentioned, it’s only by empowering parents and giving them the power to choose the education for their children that we’re ever going to be able to obtain that.
Third, I think, is moral discipline. And our young people, they have to have the discipline to seize the opportunity, to make momentary sacrifices for later gain. And traditionally, that has come — and people can find it, perhaps, from many sources — but traditionally that has come from religion, which our founders believed was the foundation of our republic. And — (applause) — and we — we have to stop policies that undermine religion or relegate religion out of the public square. (Applause.)
But now I get to my job, which is safety. Without safety you cannot have progress. You can’t have a life — a decent life in a community. And, you know, this was struck home to me 30 years ago when I visited Trenton when I was Attorney General last time, and I went to a small barber shop in an African American neighborhood. And there were people there in their 60s and 70s, and they said, “Mr. Barr, we’re in our golden years, and we are living behind bars. Look down the street. All the bars are on our windows, and the criminals run free on the street.”
Now, we’ve made a lot of progress since then; the crime rate has been cut in half. And a big part of that has been improvement in policing, and the progress we’ve made in policing, and, yes, the progress that police have made — police departments have made in building relationships with the community.
And what we’ve had, really, since — and so the Civil Rights effort, up until that time, was to tear down institutions. But I don’t think now is the time to be tearing down our institutions, because we’ve been on a march for the last 50 years of reforming our institutions, and we don’t need to tear them down. We have to be mature about this, and when we see problems, we have to redouble our efforts to reform our institutions and make sure they’re in sync with our values.
And I don’t think anyone who’s honest would deny that we’ve made a lot of progress in policing over the last 50 years. And, in fact, you know, one of the things about this episode in Minneapolis was how fast both the state and federal law enforcement responded to — to dealing with — with that action.
So I think that, while we saw something very bad, it has helped perhaps galvanize the will of the country to bring good out of that. And we can’t let that incident obscure the fact that progress has been made; that policemen are, by and large, by overwhelming majority, good, decent people who care about their community and put their lives on the line for us, their neighbors. (Applause.) And we can’t lose sight of the fact and can’t let this event obscure the fact that the — the real oppression and danger to our communities comes more from violent crime and lawlessness than it does from the police. (Applause)
Now, we’ve never — we’ve never had — we’ve never had a President who is more committed to reforming law enforcement. And he’s done that with the FIRST STEP Act and with the first police commission since Lyndon Johnson. And I’m very optimistic about, you know, what we’re going to be able to do — given his leadership, but also given the leadership of our police forces, which around the country increasingly have become better and better led.
And the — I think the police profession is itself committed to addressing the issues that we saw in Minneapolis and completing the process of professionalizing policing in this country.
And, as the President said, we’re working on a number of things through the commission that he set up and also through an executive order to propel that process even faster by looking at how we can encourage the adoption of guidelines about the use of force that are acceptable, both to the community and to the — and to the police profession, but also to encourage certification of police forces, and also through such activities as increasing grants to encourage the use of co-responders.
More and more, our police are being asked to deal with problems that — that, you know, hasn’t previously been the problem of law enforcement. They have to deal with homeless people. They have to deal with a lot of mental health issues. They have to deal with, you know, drug addiction, the drug addicts, and so forth. And providing some additional support to the police in these areas is going to be important.
So let me just say that the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to support the President’s efforts here, do all we can to bring good out of this bad incident.
Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Bill. Thank you.
Surgeon General, please go ahead. Do you want to go?
SURGEON GENERAL ADAMS: Secretary Carson is going to go.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Why don’t you go, and then Ben will go? Is that okay?
SURGEON GENERAL ADAMS: All right.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Go ahead.
SURGEON GENERAL ADAMS: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate it. (Applause.) Thank you, everyone, for coming today. Thank you to the panelists.
I just want to start off by saying that many people across the country and across the great state of Texas are hurting right now due to the tragedy that occurred to George Floyd. And I just want to extend my condolences to the Floyd family and to the entire Texas community, because I know that you all live together, you work together, you play together, and you hurt together here in Texas. And so, I want you to know that I feel that for you. (Applause.)
The President asked me to give you a quick update on America’s COVID-19 response. Thanks to cooperation with state and local partners, we’re making progress against the virus — we are — and towards a safe reopening.
Through strong public and private partnerships, America has now done more than 20 million tests. And that number is a big number. It’s not just about the number; it’s also about how many of those tests are coming back positive. We have a positive rate under 6 percent nationally. And from a public health perspective, if we’re under 10 percent positive, we’re doing a good job.
So there’s a lot of challenges out there, but I want you all to know that we are moving in the right direction. The data shows that we are moving in the right direction as a nation.
And this has happened, in part, thanks to opening of over 500 community-based testing sites through the work of private sector partners and the United States Public Health Service, which I helped lead with Admiral Giroir. Seventy percent of those sites are in CDC-designated vulnerable areas. That means that we’re taking the testing to those who need it the most, to those who are most at risk. We also have testing at 92 percent of America’s community health centers, which predominantly serve low-income areas and communities of color.
We’ve helped equip our frontline workers, our healthcare heroes, with 94 million N95 respirators, 149 million surgical masks, and more than a billion gloves. And a large proportion of those supplies, at the President and the Secretary’s direction, are going to nursing homes.
And I just want to — I see the governor over there. I want to give you all a shout-out. Texas has led the way in nursing home testing. A hundred percent of their nursing homes have been tested. They’re leading the way in testing people in corrections facilities. Over 95 percent of people in corrections facilities have been tested. And that is something you all should be tremendously proud of. (Applause.)
And these efforts have allowed states to proceed with a safe reopening, while we work with states to monitor the incoming data. We know we’re going to have clusters, but while we respond to spikes, and we adjust policies as needed.
But I want you to know that safe reopening is crucial for other areas in health too. We need Americans to be able to return to cancer screenings. My wife just finished cancer treatment. If she’d had to wait six months to get her cancer screened, she might not be here today. We need people to get their surgeries. We need people to get their vaccinations. 4.2 million children are behind on vaccinations now because of the COVID closures. We know every 1 percent increase in unemployment equates to a 1.3 percent increase in suicides. 1.3 percent increase in suicides.
So we want to reopen safely. We also have to remember that being shut down has health consequences beyond COVID. We know that being out of school is bad for your health. We need to get our kids back in school safely. (Laughter and applause.) I have a 15-, a 14-, and a 10-year-old. And so, can you tell I’ve been saying that a lot? (Laughter.)
But we know that COVID-19 has a tragically disproportionate burden on communities of color: Black Americans hospitalized at 4.5 times higher rates than whites; hospitalization rates 3.5 times higher for Hispanics than whites and five times higher for American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
The fact is this virus is exploiting and exacerbating preexisting health disparities. And these disparate outcomes and opportunities for health are, in part, the anger, the frustration, and the fear that we’re seeing manifest in protests around the country.
And that’s why it’s important for people to know that, beyond talking about the problem, at the President’s direction, at Secretary Azar’s direction, HHS and the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, or WHORC, are focusing resources on minority communities.
HHS recently allocated $15 billion to Medicaid providers and $10 billion to safety net hospitals, both groups of providers that disproportionately serve Americans of color. And I spent the last 10 years working at a safety net hospital –Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. I can tell you those are the places that are doing the work. Those are the places that, at President’s direction, we’re focusing our resources towards.
We’re working with a consortium — with the consortium of black medical schools to fund and scale local efforts in communities that, again, reach communities of color. CDC now requires all testing data reported by states include information on race, ethnicity, and zip code so we can continue to further refine and focus our strategy on the hardest-hit communities.
CMS is deregulating telemedicine to make ongoing care for many medical conditions safe, accessible, and convenient for the patients and for healthcare professionals. Again, we can’t afford to let people continue to go without their care. And the administration’s emphasis on public-private partnerships is allowing us to progress towards a vaccine and treatments at a record pace as a part of Operation Warp Speed.
I want to add that SAMHSA has just funded three community behavioral health clinics right here in Texas with the CARES Act funding. Some of your congressional representatives are here. I want to say thank you to you all for passing that and to the President for signing it to address COVID-19 and behavioral health needs. These facilities integrate mental health, substance abuse treatment, and physical healthcare in one setting, and provide 24/7 crisis intervention services.
Another notable Mental Health Awareness Training grant is in Austin, where funds are used to train community health officials, including law enforcement. And we have many of them in the crowd today on recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness and mental health crises, and how to help an individual who’s struggling. That’s all part of — of reform. That’s all part of reform in the positive direction, giving our frontline workers the tools and the training they need to be able to take care of these difficult situations.
As Mayor Sylvester Turner said at George Floyd’s funeral, we must encourage business leaders to invest in our underserved communities. And that’s what the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council is all about. I have a upcoming Surgeon General’s report on community health and economic prosperity, which aims to mobilize businesses to invest deeply and over time in the health of their communities.
Finally, to focus on chronic conditions that disproportionately impact black and brown people and may worsen because of COVID, Secretary Azar has instructed my office to accelerate the release of two calls to action: the first on maternal health — addressing the fact that women of color suffer more complications and a much higher risk of dying around childbirth. Black women are four to five times more likely to die around childbirth than white women. Native American women are more likely to die around childbirth than white women. And that’s after you control for income, after you control for education, after you control for every known factor that we — that we have.
My second call to action is on hypertension control for all Americans. Hypertension is common, it’s costly, and it’s treatable. And yet, control rates are low and stalled, especially in communities of color.
So I just want to close by saying that, as we reopen, the basic public health recommendations we’ve emphasized remain important. We flattened the curve, but that doesn’t mean that COVID has gone away, that it’s any less contagious, that it’s any less deadly to vulnerable communities.
So if you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. Nolan Ryan filmed a PSA at the governor’s direction. And he said, number one, wash your hands. Wash them more than you’ve ever watched them before in your life.
Number two, follow your local and state guidelines around social distancing. This virus likes to spread person to person. So the more we can keep distance between people, especially people we don’t know, the harder it is for this virus to transmit.
And number three — this isn’t me speaking; this is Nolan Ryan, Hall of Fame pitcher here. (Laughter.) When you’re in a public place where it’s difficult to keep a distance, like the grocery or pharmacy, the CDC recommends wearing a face covering to protect your neighbors in the event that you have COVID and you don’t know it. Up to 50 percent of people who have COVID are asymptomatic.
So thanks to the hard work of so many healthcare and public health professionals and the commitment of the American people, I want to reiterate, because you don’t hear this enough, that we are making huge progress in the fight against COVID-19. And as a member of the task force, I can tell you that we frequently talk about the great work Texas has been doing up until this point to keep the people of Texas safe, to keep the most vulnerable members of their community safe. And with every American’s help, with your help, Texas, we’ll keep making progress. We’re going to beat this virus.
And thank you for the opportunity, Mr. President. Thank you, Texas. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Surgeon General. Thank you. (Applause.)
Ben Carson? Please, Ben.
SECRETARY CARSON: Okay. Well, thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership and your courage. I don’t know of anybody who could stand up to all the criticism you get every day, 24 –(applause) —
THE PRESIDENT: Do we have a choice? Thank you.
SECRETARY CARSON: You know, our nation is continuing a path of renewal and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. But since the beginning, the President has talked about being a champion for the forgotten men and women of this nation. And that’s exactly where we’ve been concentrating. And it’s been an honor to serve in an administration with that goal. And I’m excited to see America beginning to bounce back.
The infrastructure — the economic infrastructure of our country is very strong, secondary to the abolition of multitudinous regulations and targeted tax cuts. It’s still there. That foundation is there, and we will be able to get back on that track pretty quickly.
But to help speed this rebound, the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council was formed to really help the long-forgotten communities achieve economic opportunity. And it has been refocused, at your direction, to help America’s hardest-hit communities achieve economic recovery, overcome health disparities, and thrive through educational and workforce advancement.
Now, to stimulate economic development and entrepreneurship, the council has worked to set aside additional payment protection funding for our nation’s low-income minority communities and provided technical support to help these communities to access this funding. They have stated that, during the first round, the money wasn’t getting to them. We are addressing that, and I want to thank all the different agencies. Virtually every governmental agency has contributed significantly to refocusing and addressing these problems.
The groundbreaking initiative known as Opportunity Zones, which encourages long-term investment in the forgotten communities, will also be expanded to include more of the underserved areas.
Another major initiative — improving health and public safety — comes with several administrative and legislative proposals. For example, we believe both telemedicine and increased use of mobile care can be major catalysts in our mission to overcome health disparities in underserved communities.
Those are things that can actually be done very rapidly to bring healthcare to people who’ve previously been neglected. And to further this effort, we’re also committed to reforming the infrastructure of our public health data system, addressing chronic conditions in at-risk populations, and working to address food insecurity in underserved communities. That means healthy foods at reasonable prices that are accessible.
But one of the things that I just mentioned — the data collection — we have 50 states and we have territories, and Washington, D.C., and we have all of those many different healthcare collection systems. And we are working to homogenize all of that. And we’ll make it much easier for us to identify quickly health issues and to be able to address them very quickly.
Other legislative proposals, such as advancing national broadband access and investment in minority-serving medical institutions, will also play a major role in improving the wellbeing of these forgotten communities. Making sure that we have broadband access will give access to remote learning.
We will have the possibility of taking the very best biology teacher, and instead of putting them in front of 30 students, putting them in front of a million students, so that those students who have been neglected during all this time and relegated to places where they’re not getting an appropriate education will be able to access those things.
But to guarantee the fruits of these efforts and that they’re long lasting, we understand the need to go for it with a long-term view through our focus on education and workforce development. Education and workforce development is what leads to real independence for people.
And the council supports empowering disadvantaged students with dual-enrollment opportunities, the creation of new short-term education and career pathways, and increased access to capital for our nation’s HBCUs.
School choice measures, presidential scholarships, and Second Chance Pell grants to reintegrate formerly incarcerated individuals are initiatives that will prove valuable investments in our country’s human capital. And we must remember these innovative new approaches in education and workforce development are nothing less than an investment in our future.
We only have 330 million people in this country. Sounds like a lot of people, but compared to China, it’s a quarter of what they have; India, it’s a quarter of what they have. And we have to compete with them in the future. So we need to develop all of our people.
And, you know, education, in particular, played a big role in my development. I was not a particularly good student — and that’s putting it mildly. Everybody thought I was stupid, except my mother. (Laughter.) She was always saying, “Benjamin, you can bring home much better grades than this.” But I would agree that I could, but I didn’t.
But interestingly enough, you know, my mother studied the homes of the — that she cleaned as a domestic. She came from nothing — my mother. Twenty-four, children, got married when she was 13, dire poverty, discovered her husband was a bigamist. But she was still smart enough to study those people who had these beautiful homes. And she figured that the reason they did so well is because they were well educated and they read a lot, and they didn’t watch a lot of TV.
So she came home and imposed that on me and my brother. (Laughter.) And we were not happy campers, let me tell you. If it were today’s world, we would have called social services and they’d taken her away. (Laughter.)
But — but what a difference it made, you know, starting to focus on education, starting to read books, to read about people from lots of different backgrounds — entrepreneurs and scientists and explorers and surgeons. And I begin to recognize that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you. It’s not somebody else. And nobody can stop you once you decide that that is the case. (Applause.)
And that’s why, with the council, there is so much emphasis on education, because it doesn’t matter where you came from — you get a good education and you write your own ticket. And we must reject those people who are trying to prevent school choice, who are trying to prevent the presidential scholarships, all the things that are there to empower people. And you will see a lot of that coming out of this administration.
And, you know, these investments and innovation give me a tremendous amount of hope for the future of this nation. Mr. President, under your leadership, I’m confident that the American people will emerge stronger from this pandemic and more determined than ever. And we, the people, will recognize, despite all the forces to the contrary, that we are not each other’s enemies. And — (applause) —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you, Ben. Boy, that was pretty good. Standing O for Ben. (Laughter.) He’s used to that. He’s used to it. Great job, Ben. He’s done a fantastic job at HUD, I have to tell you that.
How about Scott? We’ll go quick, Scott, so we get — we’ll get something, but Scott Turner is — (applause) — he’s a star. He’s a young star. Go ahead, Scott.
MR. TURNER: Well, thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for your leadership and giving me the opportunity to shepherd the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. And — (applause) — so, thank you.
I just want to deliver some good news, along with Dr. Carson and everyone on the panel. You know, oftentimes, you don’t hear about the work of Opportunity Zones, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that the President signed into law in 2017 created the Opportunity Zone initiative. And the President created the Opportunity Zone Council. And that council was made up to take 18 agencies — 15 federal and 3 state and regional partners — and move in a singular motion to direct resources into our most distressed, vulnerable, forgotten communities.
And with this — (applause) — and that is — it’s a tremendous time. And so our agencies on the council direct these resources. And we found 270 action items to go directly into distressed communities to help the vulnerable people of America. And we’ve built tremendous coalitions, partnerships on the ground. We’ve been to over 60 cities. I’ve been to every one of them over the last year to visit people on the ground — education leaders, faith leaders, community leaders, business leaders, elected officials, Democrat and Republican.
See, the thing about poverty, it doesn’t care what party you are. The thing about revitalization, it doesn’t care what party you are. We’re coming together as a people for the good of the community.
And, oftentimes, you may not hear about this, but we sit and convene in such as this, with all of these stakeholders at one table to have the hard conversations: What is the pain of the community? Why is the community distressed? And what can we do together — both black and white, Democrat and Republican — and come together for the good of this community, for long-term sustainability, for generational impact?
And because of that, because of these partnerships, because of this collaboration together — and many people, all at this table, have been working together to bring about generational impacts, so long after we’re gone and history tells the story.
The Opportunity Zones is more than just a program. It’s more than just a concept. It is a mission that is to outlast all of us.
And I tell you that as you’re here — because a lot of times, people see a government program assistant check the box. This is not a government program; this is built from the grassroots, from the bottom up, to affect the people in America. (Applause.)
And lastly, Mr. President, I will say tens of billions of dollars have been invested inside of Opportunity Zones, public-private partnerships: Erie, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; West Dallas, right here in my great home state of Texas; and other across the nation. Much money coming into our distressed communities.
And I say all that to say: Even though you don’t hear about it often, we have put our hand to the plow and our feet to the ground. And all of these things were done prior to COVID. But I want you to know that right now and post-COVID, that our spirit remains the same, that our heart is set, our face is set like flint, our mission is not done. But we’re going to need all of you to pray for us, to walk with us, to convene with us, to invest, to teach.
And so, Mr. President, thank you. Dr. Carson, thank you. And to all of my colleagues at the table, thank you for your support. It’s been a great honor. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That’s great. Thank you, Scott. (Applause.) Thank you, Scott. Great.
You want to go? Want to say something? Please, Pastor. Please.
PASTOR MORRIS: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I just was thinking about that, 30 years ago, I was serving as associate pastor at a small church. And I asked Bishop Harry Jackson to come and teach us on race relations, to teach us what we didn’t know, because we don’t know what we don’t know. And now, 30 years later, Bishop Harry and I are sitting on each side of the President of the United States. (Applause.)
He was concerned about healing a problem that we’ve had in our nation for a long time, but not just addressing one part of the problem, but housing — we have the Secretary of Housing, Education, Justice here. Attorney General Barr, thank you for being here. Thank you, our great governor, Governor Abbott. And I believe that we’re going to work together, and we’re going to see freedom and justice for all in America.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Great job you do here too. Great job.
Jack, go ahead. Please.
MR. BREWER: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Pastor Morris, for offering your church. I think, right now, like any other time in our nation’s history, we need God. (Applause.) I’m praying to the Holy Spirit to put words on my mouth right now. And I want our nation to hear me: We need the fear of God. (Applause.)
Mr. President, you’re the only Republican I’ve ever voted for. (Applause.) And I don’t just say that to make you feel good. Honestly, I — that’s not my goal, man. I’m saying that because you stood up for the Word of God. And as believers, as the church, we have to pray for our President and have his back. When you raised that Bible up after those folks burnt that church — we are in a spiritual warfare. (Applause.)
We cannot fight this battle with flesh and blood. We cannot fight this battle with politics. You cannot politicize oppression.
I grew up right down the street. I looked at skinheads in the eye at 13 years old. My black father went to a KKK rally to protect me. I know what racism is. So when I hear words get thrown out about white supremacy, it eats me up, because these men aren’t white supremists [sic]. That’s not what they look like. I’m telling black kids across America right now — we always hear we don’t have black leaders: Look at this table. (Applause.) We are not as divided as our politics suggests. We are not as divided as our politics suggests.
But I’ll tell you what: This President — when I walk into my prisons, I’m blessed. I teach, in prisons across our nation, men who are broken — the most broken men in our country. Our Bible teaches us to serve those in prison. Our Bible teaches us to serve the poor. And when I walk into my class and I say, “Guys, raise your hand if you’ve gotten your sentence reduced from the FIRST STEP Act,” and every single one of them raised their hand. (Applause.) That’s because of you, Mr. President, and that’s because of policy.
But you’re brave enough to go against what everyone else has said about you. Now I’m calling on you to do more. We have a real issue in our country. And the root of it — let’s not get our eye off the enemy — the root of it is fatherlessness. (Applause.) Our kids don’t fathers.
Attorney — AG Barr, you said it earlier; you talked about pulling God out. Do we talk about education? Well, 71 percent of those kids that drop out of high school don’t have a father in the house.
We talk about criminal justice reform. You’re five times more likely to go to prison or have a run-in with the police department if you don’t have a father in the house.
We talk about healthcare. You’re four times more likely to live in poverty if you don’t have a father in the house, which means you’re going to be sicker.
We don’t have to keep looking for the problem when we see it. Now it’s time for Americans of all color — I’m calling on my white brothers and sisters; I’m calling on my Spanish brothers and sisters: Get out of your bubbles. Go into the communities that are underserved, and let’s do what Jesus told us to do. (Applause.)
We can bridge this gap of fatherlessness. All we got to do is go out of our bubbles, go bridge the gap with these kids, teach them what you teach your kids. We all have rooms in our homes for a couple — couple of boys that come in and play with our sons and daughters. Let’s bridge the gap through love and through being what we all know we are. And that’s one America. God bless America.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Anybody like to speak? Please. (Laughter.) Anybody? Who goes after that? (Laughter.)
MR. DOUGLAS: Mr. President, I’d like to speak. My name is Will Douglas. I’m the owner — (applause) — thank you. I’m the owner of Crimson Care Pharmacy Group here in Dallas, Texas, and I’m also a Republican nominee for state representative here in Texas. (Applause.)
First of all, I just want to thank your administration, as well as Congress, for getting the PPP loans, speaking on behalf of my pharmacies, as well as a dozen or so other pharmacies here in the state of Texas that benefited from those. Because of the PPP loans, I was able to not have to let any of my employees go. And, in fact, I was able to hire additional employees, because our business model had changed overnight. No longer could customers come into our store; they were having to go through the drive-through, which created a whole litany of other — of other issues. So — so, for that, thank you.
The reason why — or the reason why I’m running for office is because, to me, capitalism is the most important thing. Capitalism has created this bastion of free market enterprise that we have here in Texas, with Dallas being the crown jewel. And I’m afraid that we’re going to lose that system that lifts people out of poverty.
I was on a call with — with leaders in the black community here in Dallas the other day, and one of them said something to me that that has stuck out — or that did stuck out, and I can’t let it go. And that’s that — I think he said it was an African proverb, but that a child that is not embraced by the village will burn that village down just to feel its warmth.
As Republicans, we have to find ways to make capitalism embrace the people that it’s left behind. Because if we don’t, the next time, it won’t just be villages and businesses that are being burned down, it will be the system that has lifted so many people out of poverty. (Applause.)
MR. SMITH: So, Mr. President, I’ll be — I’ll be short. I just was going to say that — thank you so much for your leadership. And I think the infrastructure that you’ve presented today is going to help a lot of people. It’s going to touch businesses like William. It’s going to keep community safe with the partnership of these law enforcement officials and the partnership with these ministers that we have and advocates, like Jon Ponder and Jack Brewer.
And so, over the next couple of weeks, I think the American people look forward to seeing the wealth of executive orders that you’re going to issue on justice, and on economic empowerment, as well as legislative asks that we’re going to make to the Hill.
But we all need your help — every locality, every group or organization — because it’s really about bringing this all together — together. That’s the secret ingredient. And it has to start at the local level. It starts at the local level because you are closer to the people. (Applause.) And we want to create that infrastructure and give you the tools to help you do what you do best, and that’s help people prosper.
So thanks again, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ja’Ron. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you, Ja’Ron.
MR. FRAZIER: Mr. President, I’d like to say thank you for putting this together, putting this together in our state of Texas, and right here in Dallas.
A lot has happened in the last week. I’m one of your officers here in Dallas. I’m also one of your commissioners on your law enforcement administration with the Attorney General Barr. I can’t thank you — (applause).
I also have to say thank you to our great governor and our leadership that’s sitting right there. Without them, we don’t make this state — we don’t make this state great. (Applause.)
We’ve had some challenges because of what’s happened with COVID. But I want to give you an update of what we’ve done on the commission so far, where we’ve had nine full hearings throughout this entire time. That’s 35 panels, 125 witnesses, 190 written statements that are from individuals and interest groups. Our civil rights and community engagement organizations that we’ve asked to attend have no-showed. And those are the ones who can make the biggest difference when you’re putting together any type of reform, because they need to be the voice to come tell us what we need.
Law enforcement today is not what it was yesterday. In my 25 years, we’ve watched it propel to where our training is what we need the most. And with this bill, you’re going to see — or with this commission, you’re going to see so many reforms come out of it. It could not have come at a better time.
We can’t take back what happened in Minnesota. Not one officer that saw that — or federal officer that saw that — said that was the right thing that happened. That was — that was — it was — it was malice, and none of us — we condemn it. If I could have trade places with Mr. Floyd, I would, because I would die for everyone in this room, because that’s our job. And — (applause) — if I could trade places with any one of those officers who were there, I would have done that too, because I wouldn’t have let that happen.
And I have to say this to the citizens that we serve and the citizens that are listening: We see you, we hear you, we are with you, and we’re going to make this better. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
MR. PONDER: Mr. President, I just want to thank you for your leadership, echoed in the sentiments of some of my colleagues up here today. Thank you for your stance on criminal justice reform. Thank you for not forgetting about the forgotten people. Thank you for your commitment and your support to the men and women of law enforcement in this country. And it is so, so very important.
My name is Jon Ponder. I’m the CEO of a ministry called Hope for Prisoners. And what Hope for Prisoners does is we work with men, women, and young adults that are exiting different arenas of our judicial system to provide the supportive services to help them to be able to successfully reintegrate back into their home, back into the workplace, and ultimately back into the community.
And, Mr. President, thank you for coming out and attending the graduation ceremony for those 31 men and women who were released from prison. I cannot tell you the wind that was beneath their wings because you came and spoke life into them. And they’re on a whole new (inaudible) of life right now because of that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Great job. Great job. That’s good. Great job.
MR. PONDER: One of the huge components — this is why I’m so supportive of your stance on law enforcement, because one of the key components to this reentry mechanism that we built up is our partnership with the police.
Our local sheriff at Las Vegas, Nevada, has given us close to 100 volunteer police officers that are mentoring and training men and women coming home from the prison system. And, sir, never before in the history of reentry, nowhere on this planet, to this magnitude, have the men and women from law enforcement come alongside formerly incarcerated folks and helped them to successfully reintegrate back into the community.
That is just further evidence that we serve a gigantic God that wants to bridge the gaps. (Applause.) And in that, that is why that is so important — because what God wants to do, the Bible calls it the “repairer of the breach.”
See, in communities across our country, there is such a disconnect between law enforcement and people from this segmented population. But when we’re able to come up with very creative ways to bring folks together — because, if you think about it, all across the country, in that disconnect, people do not trust police. Do you know why? Because they’re not in relationship with them. And in what relationship could you ever have trust, unless there’s life rubbing up against life in the spirit of complete transparency, that we have more in common than we have differences. And out of that transparency, build the relationship. And out of that relationship, it gets established trust.
It is something that Second Chance employers have absolutely fallen in love with. When you can tell — you know, tell the employer that the person that’s coming, that just came home from prison, that the mentor is a captain of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department — that begins to just open doors. So I thank you for that.
Looking so very forward to, you know, the direction that we’re going. And on behalf of the men and women who are incarcerated, right now, in our prison system across the country, thank you for creating that atmosphere for them on the inside. But I know that you have dug the trenches to create an atmosphere for them once they get released. So I thank you for that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jon. Very nice. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Very nice. Great job you’re doing, Jon. Great job.
DR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Mr. President, for putting this together today. I’ve learned so much from these men and women on this stage. I really appreciate that. Thank you for — you know, my name is Dr. Robin Armstrong, and I’ve — I’m a physician, and I’ve had an opportunity to treat many, many patients with the plague from China. And it’s been — (laughter) — and — with the COVID-19. And so we’ve had a lot of opportunity.
Thank you so much for breaking down some of the regulatory barriers in the FDA to allow us to use medications like hydroxychloroquine — (applause) — and to use medications like remdesivir and plasma infusions and all of those medications that are coming online now. Thank you so much for that.
You know, it’s been — I had the opportunity to — we had a nursing home in South Texas that had an outbreak of COVID-19. And we saw a lot of nursing facilities around the country that were having horrible outcomes and many deaths. And what we decided to do was commit to this facility and use a medication that you are familiar with, hydroxychloroquine. And we saw tremendous outcomes. (Applause.)
And it was — with the help of — with the help of some of our elected officials, our lieutenant governor, and a state senator, we were able to get access to those medications. But one of the more frustrating things I’ve seen has been the resistance of some of the regulatory agencies to be more open to using that.
I believe that — I certainly know that COVID-19 has significantly adversely affected the African American community. And I really believe that had there been more of an openness by the regulatory agencies, certainly by our medical boards all around the country to use medications like hydroxychloroquine, I believe more lives could have been saved.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
DR. ARMSTRONG: And so I really — I want to thank you for bringing that issue to the forefront because I believe that it — it did give us more access to medications.
And so — and so, it was helpful for us. I believe it saved lives. I believe we could have saved more lives. But I just want to thank you for the work that’s been done.
You know, regulations — and you’ve really broke down a lot of barriers and regulations. And in the business community, certainly I would appreciate your — what you’ve done on attempting to repeal Obamacare and all the efforts you’ve made towards that. That’s certainly going to improve access to care.
And so, I just want to thank you for all you’ve done, but we need to do a lot of work going forward to make sure that we minister to those who are most vulnerable. And so we really appreciate that.
Thank you for all of the work that Secretary Carson has done and Secretary Azar has done and our Surgeon General here has done. Thank you for allowing them to have the freedom to be able to innovate and do things and look at the data and make decisions. And so we really appreciate that. And thank you so much.
And physicians are very supportive of you. We’re really supportive of everything you’ve done to help bring this very inexpensive treatment to the forefront. And so thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Doctor. Appreciate it. Thank you.
CHIEF DOOLEY: Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity. I’m humbled to be here. I’m Chief Dooley, Glenn Heights Department. My experience is based on serving in a large department and a small department. And I can tell you that there is some phenomenal police work being done out here across the board — across the board.
But there’s also some inconsistencies in our procedures, our policies, our hiring practices, our termination practices, our disciplinary practices. And I strongly support the need for standardization based on best practices for all police departments in our country. (Applause.)
I thank the President for his foresight, for making these things come to happen. I know they’re coming, and we need it. We are a country of very good departments, but we need to be a country of great departments. And this message today is about the transition to greatness. We have an opportunity in this country to transform the future of law enforcement.
But we need to make sure that we have a relentless pursuit of dedication to public service at all times and at all levels, specifically national consistence policy on use of force — every chief would be in support of that; mandatory participation on a national use for database — use of force database — yes, it needs to happen; development of natural — national statements for discipline and termination of police officers — that needs to happen; development of a public — a police officer decertification database — yes, we need to be able to get those bad apples out of our industry so what happened will never happen again. (Applause.)
We need to enhance the police leadership and culture, and it starts at the top. We have some great leaders in this country, but we can always be better. We can always continuously improve. We need to implement improved recruitment, hiring, and promotion practices that are dedicated to having officers that are relentless- — relentlessly pursuing the service of not the community, but our community. It’s about — no, not dividing us, but uniting us and understand that we come from the community.
We need to enhance the ability for police agencies to implement effective discipline. We need to make sure that we have policies that establish a framework for a community policemen engagement that fully embraces that police officers serve, protect, and connect everyone in our community so that we all can become better.
We need training. This is not the time to defund police departments. (Applause.) When an organization or a business is struggling to be better, now is not the time to take away those resources. You provide them, and you hold them accountable, and you set expectations, and you — and you manage them so they can be better. That’s what you do. We need more training. We need more specific training that’s dedicated to service of those that — everyone we enact with on a daily basis: those that are homeless, those that suffer from mental illness, those that suf- — that need food. Okay, we need the training to be able to connect those people we interact with with those that can provide those services. That’s what we need in this country.
I want to end with just these few thoughts. I have a very simple saying to my officers — that we serve, protect, and connect, and together is better. And as I look around this room, I know that together we will become better, and we will take this country to great levels under the leadership of Donald Trump. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chief. Thank you. Thank you, very much. (Applause.) Thank you very much. That was beautiful.
So it’s time to say goodbye, but we’ll be back. We’ll be back. And I just want to thank — Bishop, you’ve been my friend for a long time, and I appreciate everything you’ve done and everything you’ve said.
BISHOP JACKSON: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: A great unifying source of strength and everything else, and I appreciate it very much.
BISHOP JACKSON: Thank you. Can I add one last thing before you leave?
THE PRESIDENT: Please. Please.
BISHOP JACKSON: I’m tired of people blaming the current administration and others in our generation. These problems began many years ago. (Applause.) And what has been exciting to me is it was the church that began the abolitionist movement.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
BISHOP JACKSON: It was the church and whites and blacks working together that started the NAACP. It didn’t have a black leader at the beginning of time. It was the church that led through in the Civil Rights movement. So I want to offer you my support in these listening sessions, in that the church needs to come together. I believe we can unify better than any group.
And what we’re looking for you to do is to give structural guidance, which you’re working on, and you’ve — you’ve already brought forth some amazing things. But I want to affirm that Democrats can’t kneel down and wear Kente cloth and stop black pain. Republicans can’t take some one-time act and stop black — black pain. But I believe we’ve got a man here who’s courageous enough to begin something that’s tough, and that we’re going to, this time, heal.
And so, I weep over this. I pray for you, as you know.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I know.
BISHOP JACKSON: And we believe that we’re going to get it right.
I got to say one last thing. Being a — I lost my late wife a couple years ago. I found out, in dealing with her, that sometimes you just got to listen, feel her pain. If you try to fix it too early, you’re going to make a mistake. Your listening sessions are wise because it’s going to give that cathartic process a chance.
So I don’t want to take up too much time, sir, but I wanted to say that. The people here, I challenge you Christians — black, white, Asian: Let’s come together, and let’s provide a safety net, and then we’ll work with business, and then we’ll work along with the administration. But don’t push them out here up front, and say, “Fix it now. Fix it now. Fix it now. Fix it now,” because it’s never worked that way. Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Harry. Appreciate it. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Pastor. Fantastic job you do. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.