Aug 5, 2017
As the nation debates the issue of violent crime in cities and what it will take to make communities truly safe, mayors, young leaders and city leaders will gather in Minneapolis, MN, from August 23-25 to share ideas and solutions on how to effectively reduce violence against young Black men and boys and create safe, healthy and hopeful communities for all.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who is attending the convening, recently shared his vision for “a city of peace and safety” and outlined an action plan in line with the Cities United roadmap to end community violence. He spoke about the need for citizens to come together to address the challenges we all face:
“Like any city, we have problems to overcome. We have to aspire to be the greatest ourselves. And that means we must be accountable as individuals, parents, families, and as a city – and face our challenges with open eyes, focused minds, and a willingness to do the work together to create a better future – for all.
Like cities all over the country, we are trying to identify why homicides are up and how we can reduce them. What are we doing about the homicide spike? Our action plan has been reviewed and endorsed by national experts. It is a targeted action plan with strategies that both fight and prevent crime. Law enforcement is one component of our strategy to make our city a safer, healthier place. But just hiring more officers and making more arrests will not get the job done.”
Mayor Fischer discussed the legacies of discrimination that help perpetuate intergenerational cycles of inequity:
The uncomfortable fact is that while homicide and violent crime affect every demographic and happen in different parts of our city, they plague Louisville’s African-American community, especially in a handful of neighborhoods, in an unfair and heartbreaking way.Virtually everyone in these neighborhoods wants what we all want – a safe and healthy place to live. And it’s not just crime. In these same neighborhoods, we see similarly troubling statistics on health, employment, income and more. There are particular challenges that Americans of color face that are the result of a legacy of exclusion. Our books are full of this history.”
Mayor Fischer also articulated the connection between systemic discriminatory practices, poverty and crime:
“So this is our opportunity to make our own history. That’s why I am calling on the federal government to listen to the people – we are sick and tired of the bickering and partisanship. Reform education, so it continuously builds skills that are relevant to a rapidly changing global and technology-based economy. Instead of generational poverty, reform welfare so skills and living wages are the result.And I am calling on the state government to rework our education investments so we can join other forward-looking states that are investing in universal pre-K. It’s better, smarter economics to invest in our children early so when they arrive to kindergarten, they are ready to learn, rather than spending money to incarcerate too many of those same citizens when they grow up.”
“Because of urban renewal, along with the discrimination in home loans, business lending and employment, African Americans here in our city had very little opportunity for upward mobility, and limited options for places to live. Over time, this contributed to the phenomenon of concentrated poverty, which describes an area far below the citywide average for income, employment, education and health.Poverty, so often, is at the root of much of our crime. Today, 1 in 7 Louisvillians lives in concentrated poverty. And that’s unacceptable – for our city and our country. We must always stay vigilant, call out and stand up against institutional practices that put poor and minority communities at a disadvantage.”
And as our August convening will affirm, cities need a comprehensive, public health approach to ending community violence. Mayor Fischer described this need for the citizens of Louisville:
As Mayor Fischer reminded us, “Anything is possible…when we come together.”
That’s why we hope you will join us for the 4th Annual Cities United Convening. We encourage mayors to assemble teams that include a local Cities United representative, a youth delegate, a community or faith leader, a public safety representative and a representative from a local foundation. Mayors and their teams will engage in peer-to-peer learning on topics ranging from creating an inclusive economy, 21st century public safety, trauma informed care and collaborative change.