Police Abuse

Former CBC Chair Who Voted For 1994 Crime Bill Tries to Cover Up His Role

Kweisi Mfume had boasted the CBC put its 'stamp' on the bill, the largest crime bill in U.S. history, which provided new cops and prisons.

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U.S. Congress

Kweisi Mfume, a former representative whose congressional district included Baltimore and who was the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in the 103rd Congress, is trying to disown his and the CBC's role in pushing through the 1994 crime bill. The 1994 bill was the largest crime bill in U.S. history—it added 100,000 new police officers around the country and committed nearly $10 billion to build new prisons. The bill also included an assault weapons ban, to entice Democrats to vote, and a "midnight basketball" provision that turned off some Republicans who might otherwise be all over a law and order bill like that. The bill passed 235-195, with most Democrats voting in favor and most Republicans voting against. President Clinton happily signed the bill into law.

Now, some supporters of that bill, instead of acknowledging that they're evolving on the issue of being blindly pro-police, are trying to rewrite the history of how that bill passed a Democrat-controlled Congress and was signed into law by a Democratic president. MSNBC's Chris Hayes asked Mfume about the 1994 bill:

HAYES: Did you vote the wrong way on the Crime Bill in `94?

MFUME: Here`s the thing about the Crime Bill in 1994, there was no vote. It was a voice vote. So you didn`t even have to be there. It was all in favor, aye, all opposed no, and that`s how it passed.

Well, actually, uh, there was also a roll call vote to agree to the conference report. That vote should've been in the research packet Hayes' producers prepared for him. Here it is: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1994/roll416.xml.

Mfume, and the entire leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus of the 103rd Congress, voted for it.

Mfume insisted widespread support for the bill was only "assumed." Continuing from the interview:

HAYES: And that`s how uncontroversial the idea was. More cops, three strikes—

MFUME: 41 new categories for the death penalty. Increase in the amount of money for prisons, decrease in the amount of money for prevention.

HAYES: And that was unanimous. That was just a unanimously held opinion across both parties.

MFUME: Well, you know, when you have a vote and say all in favor, aye, and all opposed, no, and there is no roll call, you sort of sweep it under the rug and assume that everybody`s going to support it.

HAYES: The law and order politics that have given us mass incarceration, many people will point to Nixon, particularly the Watts riots, the riots after King that happened near Baltimore in 1968, in Detroit and other places, as the starting point of that, right?

MFUME: Mm-hmm.

1994 was a big milestone on the path that might have started in 1968. And the CBC leadership wasn't a passive supporter of the crime bill. The Baltimore Sun quotes Mfume as saying the CBC wasn't doing Clinton a favor by voting for it, but had "put our stamp on this bill," because in addition to a surge in police officers and prisons, which would disproportionately affect poor, young black people, there was an assault weapons ban and a limit on automatic life sentences for repeat offenders.

In 2007, when a white representative tried to join the CBC, Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-Mo.) insisted the caucus was primarily "concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population." Clay later went on to vote against an amendment that would limit the amount of military gear sent to local police officers just a couple of months before militarized police were deployed around Ferguson, which is part of the district Clay represents. Just 7 out of 41 CBC members voted in favor of limiting police militarization. Back in 1994, only 12 out of 38 CBC members voted against the crime bill, including Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), both of whom also voted to limit police militarization.

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74 responses to “Former CBC Chair Who Voted For 1994 Crime Bill Tries to Cover Up His Role

  1. I don’t think technically you’re allowed to hold the CBC responsible for the damage they’ve wrought on their own people.

    1. You wouldn’t want to be seen as racist, after all.

    2. Fuck that. Ain’t nothin’ lower than a black slaver.

  2. The thing to remember is that that bill was passed when the Democrats controlled Congress and the White House. The Republicans didn’t retake Congress until January of 1995. I am happy to see the Democrats realize the error of their ways. It would be nice, however, if they would stop pretending they are undoing something the Republicans did rather than policies they enacted.

    1. It would be nice, however, if they would stop pretending they are undoing something the Republicans did rather than policies they enacted.

      LOL

      1. Indeed.

        1. You see if they didn’t, then racist white hicks would have voted them out for being, “soft on crime”. So really, they had to do this, in order to stay in office and accomplish greater things.

          It’s always the fault of republicans. Always.

          1. Among various other ailments, one of the problems we’ve had for a while now is the refusal to hold politicians accountable for their actions (or inactions). We need negative reinforcement here, people. Like shock collars.

            1. You know who else wasn’t held accountable for…

              Never mind. This thread doesn’t have the comment space.

    2. I am happy to see the Democrats realize the error of their ways.

      If this article and Hillary’s sudden interest in reform are any indication, they’re not acknowledging it was their way.

      1. Yes. I was being sarcastic.

          1. We’re all sarcastic, First of Etiquette.

            1. I’m not.
              Nope.
              Not me.

  3. Mfume, and the entire leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus of the 103rd Congress voted for it

    So tell me black America, how is voting 95% Democrat for going on five decades working out for you?

    1. Apparently they love it because they keep voting Dem.

    2. And remember, latinos increased their vote for Obama in ’12 over ’08 and that was after Obama’s record on deportation was well established.

      Latinos: You can’t court us and deport us!

      Obama administration: ?Si se puede!

  4. Perfect progressive tactic: rather than admit that you have learned more or evolved on the subject or just say that you were wrong, TRY AND CHANGE THE FUCKING PAST LIKE AN ORWELL VILLAIN or a fucking Terry Gilliam movie.
    God, they are so pathetic. Just like Shreek – unable to argue on the merits, they resort to the highly sophisticated technique known as “making shit up”…

    1. When the facts don’t fit…

      You just make up some shit!

      1. And issue a new Newspeak Dictionary.

  5. “… Terry Gilliam movie.”

    + 12 Monkeys

  6. In 1994, the streets were not safe. Automatic weapons fire rattled through the night. Bullet-riddled bodies piled up on street corners faster than they could be hauled away. Pre-teen children were sold as sex slaves in open bazaars. Bank robberies were so frequent as to be almost unremarkable. Opium dens were more common than cocktail lounges.
    SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE.

    1. A lot of people thought something had to be done. Look at the crime rate between 1960 and 1990 and you might see why.

      1. Yeah, to be fair, we had just been through a crack epidemic. I still remember the boarded up houses in my area. Of course that’s Baltimore in 2015 so…

    2. It really was Detroit a la Robocop. AND IT WAS EVERYWHERE.

    3. Good times…

  7. “Those Blacks, not knowing what’s good for ’em.”

    -white libertarian

    Black people have never been very sympathetic to the libertarian explanation for their problems. Might have something to do with the fact that they actually experience those problems. They see the problems that drugs cause in their communities.

    1. Oh, this if fucking RICH. Yep, it’s libertarians telling black people what to do. Not six decades worth of one fucking political party.

      1. Forget it. He’s trolling…

        *said like Otter from “Animal House”*

      2. He or she Hates The Liberty, Catatafish. I just take the “ignore” route now.

        1. *accepts chastisement from MC & CE and swims back to cave to begin a Rocky IV training montage to ignore the derp*

      3. Their leaders tell them to vote Democrat. We manipulate them of course, but they would vote for us regardless.

    2. No, they see the problems drug *prohibition* causes in their communities.

    3. They see the problems that drugs cause in their communities.

      Yeah. Broken homes because dad is in prison. Rampant violence due to the fact that disputes can’t be settled peacefully in court. Police abuse because victimless crimes necessitate abusive enforcement.

      Oh, wait. Those problems are all caused by the drug war, not drugs.

      Never mind.

      1. Drugs are the only reason dad is in prison? I rather doubt it.

        http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cj…..s/table-43

        What about victimless crimes “necessitates” abusive enforcement?

        1. Drugs are the only reason dad is in prison? I rather doubt it.

          What part of “Rampant violence due to the fact that disputes can’t be settled peacefully in court” did you not understand?

          What about victimless crimes “necessitates” abusive enforcement?

          Being that there is no victim involved, there is absolutely no moral justification for any use of force by the police to enforce the “crime.” So anything that they do to enforce a victimless crime is immoral and abusive.

          1. I’m sure the arson and rape is caused by the drug war too.

            Oh, it’s abusive because you don’t like it.

            1. Um, no. But thanks for providing a great example of how you can’t fix stupid.

      2. But the question is, why don’t the Blacks who are actually experiencing these things see it the way white libertarians do?

        1. For the same reason why Whites who participated in the OWS movement feel that more government will solve problems created by too much government.

          There are a lot of stupid people out there, and you can’t fix stupid.

          1. They’re stupid, an admission!

            1. Lots of people are stupid. You are a great example of this.

              1. Why do you curse yourself, sarc?

                *snickers about memoryhole dilemma*

      3. Eh, black communities had lots of problems before the drug war.

        a surge in police officers and prisons, which would disproportionately affect poor, young black people

        Yeah, but crime also disproportionately affects poor, young black people. It’s not simple problem: “Just end the drug war and repeal the 1994 bill and all will be well.” One big step would be repealing the Great Society, but that seems unlikely.

        1. Yeah. Black run communities like, to pick a non-random example, Baltimore could easily say “no thanks,” to those extra police officers. And yet they don’t. Even now, it’s not “end the drug war,” that is the “protesters” demand, overwhelmingly it’s for more money and goodies.

        2. One big step would be repealing the Great Society, but that seems unlikely.

          Economic liberty is the solution to poverty. People can’t help themselves if they aren’t economically free. Simply repealing social programs without addressing excessive regulations that retard the ability of people to lift themselves up out of poverty, I believe, would make things much worse.

          1. That, too. But simply removing the incentive to have kids at taxpayer expense would help.

            1. I don’t think that people who are so irresponsible as to bring children into this world that they have no hope of providing for are actually thinking that far ahead.

              1. Actually, it’s well-known and depended on in poor US communities that having kids out of wedlock gets you government benefits.

                1. Actually, it’s well-known and depended on in poor US communities that having kids out of wedlock gets you government benefits.

                  Yeah, there are entire communities of people structured around gaming the welfare system. Add to that the “social workers” and “community organizers” who “help” people by aiding them in this process. Somehow this unconscionable evil is considered acceptable thanks to “good” intentions.

        3. “Eh, black communities had lots of problems before the drug war.”

          That’s a big fucking surprise given the history of this country up until the late 60s/early 70s when the drug war started.

          1. That’s a big fucking surprise given the history of this country up until the late 60s/early 70s when the drug war started.

            The actual surprise is that the problems seem to get worse the farther we move away from slavery and Jim Crow. Which is not to say (at all!) that such things were justified (correlation ? causation), but rather that causality is far more complicated than just pointing to the (abridged) “history of this country”.

            1. I don’t think you can simply say everything has gotten worse since then. Not improved as much as everyone would like, sure but that’s different. Stuff like single parenthood increased, but that coincided with drastic societal cultural changes, and in some cases is as much as symptom of problems as the cause of them. Crime rates increased in the 60s and 70s but have decreased over the last 20 years.

              To get back to the larger point, it’s not as if society was reset to a blank slate as soon as the CRA passed in 1964. The continuation and at times worsening of problems in black communities in the last 50 years doesn’t somehow negate the fact that problems in black communities pre-1960s had a lot to do with things like slavery, Jim Crow, and other forms of societal discrimination and oppression. I think Papaya missed the point sarcasmic was making that the drug war has retarded the ability of these communities to overcome their problems.

    4. Fuck off, American.

    5. This is hilarious coming from you, American, given that in every other instance you think problems in black America are caused by blacks being naturally intellectually inferior.

      Why do you keep coming back here, you racist idiot?

      1. Of course that’s the cause of their problems. And Blacks don’t see it because they don’t want to see it, though they surely know it deep in their minds. We tell you it’s your fault to make you feel guilty so that you will support policies opposed to your ethnic interests.

    6. They see the problems that drugs cause in their communities.

      Drugs don’t cause problems; they are the excuse that violent, narcissistic, and dysfunctional people use to get away with bad behavior.

  8. Mfume was born — I am not making this up — Frizzell Gerald *Gray*.

    Coincidence?

    1. His momma named him Frizzell?

      1. Fo Shizzle!

      2. Well, he is a Lefty

    2. Frizzell?! Oh, shiznit!

  9. “MFUME: 41 new categories for the death penalty.”

    Does this strike anyone else as fucking ridiculous? And does that mean what I think it means? Is “Mfume” trying to make us more like Communist China?!?!?

    Now THEY are tough on crime!!

  10. Every time I see the name “Kweisi,” I think of Sally Cruikshank.

  11. remember when Nixon was president during the 1968 Watts riots? neither do I.

  12. The 1994 bill was the largest crime bill in U.S. history?it added 100,000 new police officers around the country and committed nearly $10 billion to build new prisons. The bill also included an assault weapons ban, to entice Democrats to vote, and a “midnight basketball” provision that turned off some Republicans who might otherwise be all over a law and order bill like that. The bill passed 235-195, with most Democrats voting in favor and most Republicans voting against. President Clinton happily signed the bill into law

    Wow, all those words strung together in the same sentence. Makes me think of simpler times when I was young-ish.

  13. He was head of the Canadian Broadcast Company? Does Rufus know this?

    /didn’t RTFA

  14. I saw a progressive making an argument on Reddit yesterday blaming conservatives for Baltimore, because even if Democrats have controlled Baltimore forever, the politicians have supported conservative policies to create this situation. Then tried to exclusively blame Nixon and Reagan for the war on drugs and tough on crime policies, and then labeled any Democrat who supported those measures a “Blue Dog” or “conservative” Democrat. Some people are really, really fucking partisan to the point of blind insanity.

    1. then labeled any Democrat who supported those measures a “Blue Dog” or “conservative” Democrat.

      Which means Hillary, Biden, O’Malley, Mfume, Charlie Rangel, and a bunch of others.

  15. “I was for the Bill until I was against it.”

  16. I tend to wonder as to the following. How in blazes does the congress get away with or allow a voice vote on ANY important legislation, or any legislation at all for that matter, unless the congress might be ashamed re what they are doing. If that be the case, why are they doing it?

  17. Dear Mr. Krayewski

    In your not so cleverly written article you failed to point out that the 1994 Crime Bill did in fact pass tthe House of Representatives on a VOICE VOTE. My opposition was not against all of the measures included in the House bill but rather an attempt to vote it down and send it back to Committee to be made better. Nine months later the two versions of the bill were put together in a conference report. The final version kept in it the Violence Against Women Act, a ban on assault weapons, and $14 billion for Community Oriented Policing, all were measures that I supported. When the Conference version of the bill came up for a vote almost a year later I, along with a majority of members voted for it. Was it the best bill possible?? no. Did America need a legal ban on assault weapons?? Yes. Did I want to pass a Violence Against Women Act??. Yes. Did our cities need 14 billion dollars to help them with Community Oriented Policing? …yes.

    Furthermore, your statement that all members of the Black Caucus voted for the bill was absolutely false. Ten CBC members voted AGAINST the bill, but who cares about facts?

    NOWHERE in my on air comments with MSNBC did I say that I did not vote for the bill. And, NOWHERE in your writing did you tell the whole story. The words “cover up” that you so salatiously wove into your headline are mid-leading to say the least.

    Respectfully,
    Kweisi Mfume

    1. Shut the fuck up, you obfuscating piece of shit.

      LOL @ “salatiously”. You are as stupid as you are dishonest, to say the least.

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