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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 8, 1996
                     REMARKS BY THE VICE PRESIDENT 
                          AND MR. JOSEPH CHERY

The East Room

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the President, I would like to welcome you to the White House and to this important event. I would like to acknowledge the presence of the Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin, the Attorney General Janet Reno, and the Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, and the Under Secretary for Enforcement with the Department of the Treasury Ray Kelly, also Senator Chuck Robb. And we're honored to be joined by Joseph and Clementina Chery and also Professor David Kennedy, who worked very hard to make this initiative a success. And may I also acknowledge the many U.S. attorneys and law enforcement officials who are present for today's announcement by the President.

Today we're striking another blow against those who would put guns in the hands of our children and lead them down crime's dark pathways. President Clinton will make this important announcement in just a moment. Before he does I would like to place today's action in a broader context.

This initiative is yet another component of a larger and extremely effective strategy to fight crime in our nation. That fight began in earnest early in President Clinton's administration when he broke years of gridlock by getting past and then signing the toughest and smartest anticrime bill in the history of the United States of America. That anticrime bill is right now putting 100,000 more community police officers on the street.

And President Clinton is working to keep these courageous men and women safe by fighting to outlaw cop-killer bullets. This President has banned 19 deadly assault weapons and signed the Brady Bill into the Brady Law, a law which so far has so far prevented over 60,000 fugitives, felons and other dangerous people from buying a handgun.

For chronic criminals, President Clinton said three strikes and you're out. And for the bad apples terrorizing law-abiding citizens in public housing, President Clinton said one strike and you're out.

He's also equipping ordinary citizens and those who protect them with the information they need to keep their streets safe by signing Megan's Law to notify communities of sex offenders in their neighborhoods, and by establishing the National Gang Trafficking Network to help law enforcement agencies share information about gangs and stop them before they strike. Perhaps most important, as we're doing today, President Clinton has made a special effort to keep our children out of harm's way.

Has this President gotten some powerful interests angry as he's pursued this progress? You bet he has. But something else has happened, too. President Clinton replaced a stale talk-on-crime policy with an invigorated tough-on-crime policy. It worked. America's crime rate, especially in our large cities is falling. Violent crime is down. The number of murders is down. Burglaries are down. We're not done yet. There's a long way to go. And today's announcement is another important step on that journey.

But the fact remains, President Clinton's strategy is by far the most effective anticrime strategy our nation has ever seen. He's reached into the country to enlist some of the nation's most effective crime fighters in his cause.

It's now my pleasure to introduce one of those people. A man with deep roots in law enforcement. A man who went from a radio car in Brooklyn to the top of the New York City Police Department. A man who incidentally was instrumental to America's efforts to restore democracy in Haiti. And a man we're delighted to have serving our country once again, this time as Under Secretary of the Department of Treasury.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ray Kelly. (Applause.)

MR. CHERY: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, statistics paint us the gruesome picture of the reality our children face every day on the streets of America -- a reality made of drugs, knives, guns, and death. Violent deaths that claim the lives of 15 children every day across this country, emptying out a classroom full of kids every two days.

Every time this reality strikes, many our quick to say that this child was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And every time, my wife is equally quick -- my wife, Tina -- is equally quick to reply that there are no signs across the streets of our nation that warns this is a war zone, walk at your own risk.

Therefore, every street corner, every playground, every school and every church, at any time we choose, should be the right place and the right time for us and for our children to be. Every time we allow a child to fall a victim of violence, it is an attack on our humanity. And in each case, a family is swept up by a twister of sorrow, confusion, and anger.

I know the feeling, for my family is still picking up the pieces of our shattered lives. Two and a half years ago, our 15-year-old son, Louis D. Brown, a young and promising peacemaker who described himself simply as an intelligent and handsome black male, was killed by a stray bullet in Boston as he headed to a Christmas party given by his group, the Teens Against Gang Violence.

Louis dreamed of becoming the first black president of the United States. He often worried that if, by the time he took residence in this White House, nothing had changed in the lives of his peers, that none of them would be around to partake in his administration because they would either be all in jail, all addicted to drugs, or all dead.

That is why he set out early to do something about it. So to continue the work that Louis had started, Tina and I developed in his memory the Louis D. Brown Peace Curriculum. This program draws on Louis' life story to teach the value of peace to all high school sophomores in the Boston public school system. Next academic year the Peace Curriculum will be introduced in all Catholic high schools.

Louis will never see his dreams come true. But with the Peace Curriculum we are helping foster an environment that will help other youth live out their dreams. Louis will never become the first black president of our nation. But, my dear son, today your mother and I are happy to bring you home to your White House.

Were he alive today, Louis would have been very proud of the current residents of the White House. He would have found in Mrs. Clinton the mother concerned about the lives of all our children; a First Lady who believes that our nation is a village where all Americans must work together to protect our children. Louis would have found an ally in President Clinton, for the President's commitment to making it harder for criminals to repeatedly hurt our children, and for President Clinton's resolve to stop guns from getting on to our streets and into the hands of our young people.

Under President Clinton's leadership, this vision of a village is coming to life. One in which residents collaborate with local law enforcement and government agencies to attend to quality of life issues; where parents work with school officials to develop programs like the Louis D. Brown Peace Curriculum, to provide a better education and develop students' moral character; a village where local, state and federal governments work in partnership to make our streets safe and provide opportunities for growth.

Today President Clinton will announce an initiative that will take us one step closer to becoming this caring village, a village built on partnerships; a village that protects its own.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you the President of the United States of America, Mr. Bill Clinton. (Applause.)