Remarks by Vice President Pence at Ten Point Coalition's Annual Luncheon
Indianapolis Marriott Downtown
1:00 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Thank you, Erin, for that wonderful, warm introduction and for your friendship and your contributions to this occasion and to this community. We admire you greatly. And to Reverend Harrison, Governor and First Lady Holcomb, Congressman Messer, Lieutenant Governor Crouch, Lieutenant Governor Ellspermann, Attorney General Hill, members of the Indiana General Assembly, Mayor Joe Hogsett, Chief of Police Roach, distinguished guests, it is great to be back home again. (Applause.) My wife Karen sends greetings. She's going to be joining me for a small occasion at the State House in just a little bit, but she went to the Indiana State Fair. She just -- you know. (Laughter and applause.)
It's a particular joy to be here with so many dear friends -- men and women who have brought hope and healing to fellow Hoosiers. It is an honor to be standing once again with the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition. Reverend Harrison, thank you so much for your great leadership and compassion. (Applause.)
It’s humbling to be with all of you today standing in the capacity in which I now serve, among people who know me so well over so many years of service. But I bring greetings today from the man who made that service possible, whose confidence and the confidence of the American people landed me in this position. I bring greetings this morning from a great admirer of the people of Indiana and a great champion of America’s inner cities, the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
I’m here today as a fellow Hoosier and on behalf of our President simply to say thank you. Thank you to all of you from the bottom of our hearts for investing in the Ten Point Coalition with your time and your talent and your treasure -- now for more than two decades -- and for believing in this community and in the extraordinary potential of this community to set an example for the nation.
Now, the Old Book tells us that if you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, then honor; if respect, then respect. And I’m just here today as a fellow Hoosier to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you -- all of you involved in this organization, members of the board, volunteers, and contributors who made such an extraordinary difference in the lives of our fellow Hoosiers. And the Ten Point Coalition is not only going to be inspiring cities across Indiana. I promise you, it will continue to inspire cities and communities across the United States of America. (Applause.)
And let me add my congratulations to the three recipients that we just met of the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Award. Was the term "OG" I thought I heard, Reverend Harrison? (Laughter.) I call them heroes. Heroes who have had the courage to put feet on their faith to help their neighbors. Can we give one more round of applause to Darryl Jones, Donny Reynolds, and Wallace Nash, these are inspiring men who are pouring themselves into the lives of young people. (Applause.)
And finally, let me thank one of my heroes -- a humble man himself whose visionary leadership and inspiring faith you can see in those statistics and you know in your hearts has made Indianapolis and Indiana a safer place -- the founder and president of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, my friend, Reverend Charles Harrison. (Applause.) Reverend, thank you so much for your witness and for your leadership. You can get on your feet for him if you want one more time. (Applause.) I know Reverend Harrison well. We became friends some time ago, and I know the only part of this event that he doesn't like is that. (Laughter.) Thank you so much for your witness, for your faith, and your example.
It’s remarkable to think about everything the Ten Point Coalition has accomplished since its founding in this city about 20 years ago. You brought Indianapolis together in common cause -- law enforcement, faith leaders, local businesses, government officials, all in evidence today, families, and local residents -- all for one common purpose, and that is to tackle the violent crime and the lack of opportunities for young people in our cities. And all of you involved in the board, all of you involved as volunteers in the Ten Point Coalition have been literally shining the light of God’s love and hope into some of the most challenging places in our city. You've literally been the hands and feet of our Lord, and I thank you for that.
It was only 13 months ago that Karen and I had the privilege to put on those bright neon yellow vests ourselves, and we walked with Reverend Harrison and an evening group in what they call the faith patrol through some neighborhoods on the Near Northside. It was an experience Karen and I will always remember. It was a very, very special time.
We came just a few weeks before our lives would be turned upside down and we'd be swept into a national campaign. But it was still among one of the most meaningful moments of the year 2016 for my wife and I. As we walked those streets, we heard stories. We heard stories from families of sorrow and resolve; we heard of stories of redemption and second chances. We saw firsthand, really, the power of love and faith to heal the wounds of division and distrust that set us apart from our neighbors and friends. And most of all, Karen and I saw a program that literally, every day, works miracles in the evening hours of the streets of Indianapolis. That's the Ten Point Coalition. (Applause.)
And there's no doubt the Ten Point Coalition is succeeding in saving lives in Indianapolis. You just heard the statistics, but they're worth repeating. Last year alone, the Coalition helped reduce homicides by 85 percent in three communities that they serve -- Butler-Tarkington, Crown-Hill, and the Northwest Area. It's an extraordinary accomplishment, and it deserves another round of applause for these heroes who have been out taking personal risk to change lives. (Applause.)
In recognition of their success, I'm pleased to report the Federal Bureau of Investigation awarded the Coalition, its directors, the Community Leadership Award, and it was so well deserved. And just two days ago, I was so glad to learn that our attorney general, Curtis Hill, has announced a new grant program to that will help to expand the Ten Point Coalition to cities all across Indiana. Mr. Attorney General, thank you for your vision and your leadership in bringing solutions that work to the other 91 counties of our state. (Applause.)
The Ten Point Coalition truly is an inspiration to us all. Your leaders and volunteers really embody those timeless values of commitment to faith and neighbor and family and community, of charity and duty to country and selfless service that's really what Indiana is known for all around America. So I just want to thank each one you for the life-saving, life-changing work that you've been involved in every day.
And make no mistake about it, I can tell you -- and I talked about it this morning -- the Ten Point Coalition and all of you who feel called to confront the challenge of urban youth violence, you have an ally, an advocate, and a champion in President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Our administration, under the President's direction, has already demonstrated our commitment to renewing opportunity and restoring public safety to our cities using those same engagement ideals of the Ten Point Coalition. In one of his first acts as President after taking the oath of office, the President issued an executive order to create the first-ever Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, with the goal of fostering collaboration between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and to improve the safety of our police officers and the safety of the citizens that they serve.
And just two months ago, I was pleased to join Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch the National Public Safety Partnership between the Department of Justice and just 12 cities across the United States of America. And I was proud that one of those cities that stood out and earned that support was the city of Indianapolis. And, Mayor Joe Hogsett, I offer you my congratulations. (Applause.)
This new initiative will provide additional resources to empower cities to identify the best tools and the best strategies to take on gangs, to take on the drug dealers, and take back their cities from the scourge of violent crime.
And I want to not only commend the mayor, but also your chief of police, Bryan Roach. This is a great team and we are committed at the federal level to working with Indianapolis to continue the progress that you've made under your leadership. So, thank you. ((Applause.)
And while we speak of those in law enforcement, let me take a moment just to express my deepest sympathies -- deepest sympathies to the family of Deputy Police Chief Jim Waters, who passed away just a few short weeks ago. The Good Book tells us that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and I know I speak for all of us gathered here, and all across our city and our state, when I say that your deputy chief will be missed. We will cherish and honor his service always, and we express our condolences to his family.
In fact, before I go one step further, you know, there's an awful lot of members of the law enforcement community who are with us here today -- state and federal officials and people that stand every day on the thin blue line, protecting our families. Would all mind getting on your feet and just showing these law enforcement officers how much we truly appreciate the sacrifices and risks they take each and every day to keep us safe? (Applause.)
Let me also say that President Trump, as he demonstrated yesterday, is committed to addressing a crisis that has hit close to home here in Indiana and in states, really, all across the heartland -- the scourge of opioid addiction. I want to thank Governor Holcomb for his aggressive efforts in this regard.
And just yesterday, I was pleased to join the President at Bedminster, as he directed our entire administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis of an opiate epidemic. President Donald Trump yesterday declared a national health emergency to confront opiate addiction and abuse in America, and we're going to partner with our states to bring hope and healing to families. (Applause.)
And President Trump has been working to keep his promise to make America safe again. But our President also knows that we can't just arrest our way back to public safety. We've got to create opportunities for people. And in that sense, the Ten Point Coalition has been ahead of its time, understanding that it's not just about having faith patrols on the streets and working with local law enforcement; it's about making sure that our young people have better choices.
That’s why our administration has been fighting every day to get this economy moving again. We’ve already taken decisive action to rein in the heavy hand of government so that job creators can expand their workforces and the American people can find and seize opportunities they need to climb the ladder of success. You heard Fanchon describe some of the progress in the economy, and you can feel it all across America, I can tell you.
Whether it’s regulation, energy, trade, or taxes -- you name it -- this President is taking action, and our communities can feel the difference every single day. Businesses, large and small, have literally created more than one million new jobs since the first of this year. More Americans are working now than ever before. Unemployment hasn’t been this low in 16 years, and African American unemployment is at a 17-year low. (Applause.)
And we’re not just fighting to put America back to work. President Trump is also committed to fighting to restore the dignity of all work -- an issue that I worked on during my years as governor, and Governor Holcomb has been expanding greatly on in the tenure of his administration. Our administration will continue to work with Indiana and states around the country to ensure that every American, young and old, has the opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed in the careers of their choosing.
The President actually signed an executive order to expand apprenticeships and vocational training in the skilled trades. And I'm so glad to see Sue Ellspermann, my former lieutenant governor and the great president of Ivy Tech here, making a great, great difference in community college education here in the Hoosier State. (Applause.)
But, you know, the Ten Point Coalition has understood the importance of vocational training since its very inception -- bringing together communities and families and employers. In fact, when we walk the streets with the Ten Point Coalition, Reverend Harrison asked me if I had a little more time that night, and I said, of course, I did. When the faith patrol finished, we ended up at Reiss Welding, just up near 38th Street. It's a great company right here in Indianapolis. Reiss Welding has actually been partnering with the coalition to hire ex-offenders in the community and give them the training and the skills they need to get back on their feet.
That night, I talked with more than a few of them. It was kind of hard to get us out of the place. I was so inspired by the owners that were putting their faith in not only the Ten Point Coalition, but in these men with transformed lives who have chosen a better path and they've determined to give them an opportunity to live out that path.
I heard from those same men about how grateful they were to have been given a second chance. It was a God-send for each and every one of them. So why don't we just take a moment to thank Reiss Welding, who are represented here today, I know, and all the businesses who partner with Ten Point Coalition to open doors of opportunity for our young people all across this city. It's making a difference. Let's give them a round of applause. (Applause.)
You know, it's remarkable to think that an amazing 90 percent of apprentices get jobs after they finish a program. Their average salary is an impressive $60,000 a year. These jobs are a solid foundation for a good life and a brighter future. And as President Trump has said, we’re going to, in his words, help all Americans find a rewarding career, earn a great living, and be able support themselves and their families with better access to vocational education and training.
And our administration is also committed to enacting bold reforms in our welfare system. We're seeking every day to move people from welfare to work, from dependency to opportunity.
As the Ten Point Coalition knows, too many of our federal programs seem to undermine the very institutions in our society that create a foundation for prosperity and opportunity.
The result is a heartbreaking cycle of poverty and despair. I believe, and the President believes, if we’re serious about helping the most vulnerable among us, it’s not enough just to provide shelter from the cold; we also have a responsibility to help them find a pathway out of poverty and into greater opportunity for themselves and their families. (Applause.) And under the President's leadership, our administration is going to be working with the Congress to reform our welfare programs to achieve that goal -- to move people from welfare to work.
Later this fall, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, who was just in Indiana a few days ago, will unveil a new initiative of private and public partnerships that will empower the neediest among us to develop the skills and confidence they need to compete for today’s jobs, climb the ladder of success, and fulfill their God-given potential. We believe this initiative, and in the midst of all the others, will help transform public housing into springboards for upward mobility. And we look forward to working with the city of Indianapolis and with the state of Indiana to make that a reality in the Hoosier state.
The truth is we can’t solve poverty from Washington, DC. Our administration believes in bottom-up approach that will empower local problem-solvers like all of you, and like all the officials that are gathered here, to do what you do best.
So as we continue to develop these reforms, I urge you to stay engaged, to bring those great ideas forward to the city of Indianapolis, to the state of Indiana, and know that our administration will continue to work very carefully to study the progress that Indiana is making and to be able to export Indiana's success all across this country.
So let me just say, as I wrap up today, I want to -- I came here today to express my appreciation. All of the actions and initiatives that I've mentioned are tremendously important for our administration and the millions of people that will benefit from them. But, truly, to restore an America where anyone can succeed, no matter where they are and where they live, we have to ultimately remember that we start with our kids, with the education that they receive.
The President has said eloquently that, in his words, that "education is the civil rights issue of our time." And he's made it clear that our administration will not rest until we open the doorway to a world-class education for every child in every city in America. (Applause.)
The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who I met with earlier this week, is hard at work reforming federal education policies to give states like Indiana even more flexibility, to be able to enact real reforms that gives students and parents even more choices.
We believe that every student deserves access to a world-class education, regardless of their income or their area code. And we'll continue to support efforts all across the country and to expand educational choices like you've developed here in Indiana for more and more children. I promise you that.
My friends, I can assure you we have a President, and this a White House, that is deeply committed to the vision and the values that bring us here today. We’re fighting every day to extend opportunity to those who don’t have it, to restore peace to the communities that have experienced too little of it of late, and to bring hope and an opportunity for a future to those who so desperately need it.
The policies that I’ve discussed today will continue to make a difference in the lives of countless Americans. But as the Ten Point Coalition knows at its core, the most important work we'll ever do will take place not in the marbled halls of Washington, D.C. or in the State House or in city hall here in Indianapolis. The truth is, the real work is going to be done by people like all of you. It's going to be done in the hearts and minds of our neighbors who take it upon themselves to take ownership to not only revive our economy, but to revive the commitment of each of us, one another to our neighbor. That's the pathway to public safety. That's the pathway to prosperity.
And so today, as I close, I would just challenge all of you who support and are involved in the Ten Point Coalition to keep it up, keep doing what you're doing each and every day. As the Good Book says, “Do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest of blessing, if we do not give up.”
So, men and women and volunteers of the Ten Point Coalition, do not grow weary, do not give up. Have faith in God. Have faith in this community and in the great people of the state of Indiana. And the work that you do here at the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition will continue to change this community, change communities all over the state of Indiana, and it will inspire the nation.
So thank you for your work. God bless the Ten Point Coalition, the great state of Indiana, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
1:20 P.M. EDT