Remarks Announcing Additional Federal Aid for the Investigation of the Murdered and Missing Youth in Atlanta, Georgia

March 13, 1981

The President. I have a brief statement to read, and then I'm going to leave because of the Cabinet meeting that's scheduled, and the Vice President is going to remain for your questions.

Since the first days of this administration, we've been deeply concerned and involved in assisting the city of Atlanta and its citizens in attempting to bring an end to one of the most tragic situations that has ever confronted an American community. Twenty children have been murdered, and another is still missing. This nightmare has continued for more than 19 months, and I'm determined to continue to assist the city of Atlanta in bringing it to an end.

Today I'm directing that $1\1/2\ million be provided for the city of Atlanta for the increased costs of the investigation conducted by local law enforcement officials. This is in addition to the $979,000 in Federal funds that I asked be sent to the city on March 5th for the purpose of providing needed social and health services to the citizens of the area.

I want the people of Atlanta and the Nation to know that this administration is doing and will continue to do what we can to help bring an end to this tragedy. Presently we have nearly 40 FBI agents in the field working on the case along with scores of others throughout the country who are deeply involved. The Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Education are providing investigative and social services requested by Mayor Maynard Jackson and other local officials.

Tomorrow Vice President George Bush will travel to Atlanta as my emissary to meet with the mayor, the members of the task force which we created nearly 4 weeks ago, and other concerned members of the community to convey the deep feelings and convictions that we both share regarding this crisis.

And finally, on a personal note, I'm deeply touched by the depth of concern and compassion being expressed by Americans in every area of our land. The American people are responding with offers of funds, personal commitments, and with other expressions of assistance. They've joined all of us with their prayers as they continue to display the kindness and the decency and the generosity of spirit that has historically been the hallmark of our people.

All of this that we've been doing so far, all of it has been managed by the Vice President. So, that's why I'm going to leave you in his hands now while I go back to the Cabinet meeting.

The Vice President. Thank you, sir.

Reporter. But, Mr. President, what do you have to say to people who say that Washington would have moved quicker if those children had been white than it did?

The President. Well, we moved as quickly as we could and were aware that there was a need for outside help. The mayor contacted us and asked, and we immediately went to work with these funds and appointed the Vice President right then, asked him to take charge. So, we've been doing it from the first that there was anything that we could do to help.

Q. The fact they were black didn't mean that we had less concern or you moved slower?

The President. No. Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News], I think there's one thing, and I want to make one thing very plain. This goes all the way back to the campaign. This administration is totally colorblind.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 12:57 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House.

The Vice President's question-and-answer session with reporters also is included in the White House press release.