Democrat Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor, tried to address criminal-justice reform two weeks ago to the liberal Netroots Nation conference. But he effectively got heckled off stage by "Black lives matter" protesters -- and later had to apologize for responding to them that "All lives matter." Needless to say, he was unable to make his points that day.
So he made them Friday to the National Urban League's annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, where he was allowed to get through his speech and was met with applause, though it was not particularly warm. And he made sure the group knew he had learned his lesson:
As mayor, he said, "Every year we buried 300 young black men who died violent deaths on our streets -- and black lives matter." There was tepid clapping.
WHEN YOUR POLLING IS LOW: O'Malley began his remarks by introducing himself to many people who probably don't know who he is: "I am a Democrat, and I'm running for president of the United States."
REMEMBER 'THE WIRE'? Baltimore was suffering when he took office, O'Malley said, without spelling out that his city's portrayal in the HBO show The Wire: "They had life in their neighborhood made miserable by open-air drug dealing."
BUT HE MADE THINGS BETTER, HE SAID: O'Malley said Baltimore is growing and his administration spent more on public schools. And as governor, he added, he reduced crime, recidivism and incarceration rates. The questions for the next president, O'Malley said, will be: "How can we save lives? How can we improve and reform our criminal-justice system? And how, together, can we make real the promise of equal protection under the law?"
HIS ANSWERS: Reduce mandatory-minimum sentences for non-violent crimes. Repeal the death penalty. Invest in re-entry programs for convicts. Better equip communities to deal with mental illnesses. And, he added, "We must improve policing, and the way we police the police." ("When I first ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999, I was not endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police," he bragged.)