For Immediate Release
Date: February 27, 2014
Savannah Mayor Pro Tem Van R. Johnson II and representatives from the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department joined leaders from 37 municipalities in New Orleans today for the inaugural Cities United convening. The national movement aims to reduce the tragic number of violence-related deaths of young African American men and boys. The two-day working session will help guide Cities United's effort to restore hope and opportunities to young men and boys directly affected by violence.
Alderman Johnson represented Mayor Edna Jackson, a National League of Cities board member who signed on to the initiative. Alderman Johnson was joined by SCMPD Assistant Chief Terry Enoch, Capt. Ben Herron and Lt. Ramona Famble, and 200 other city leaders from the 37 participating Cities United members.
“The violence must stop,” Alderman Johnson said. “Simply attending another funeral, or a vigil or a rally is not solving the problem. Simply locking up the criminals is not solving the problem. We will never solve this problem until our community comes together in a collaborative, coordinated, sustained way to change the lives of our young people.
“I am glad that Mayor Jackson and the City of Savannah is strongly represented among the first cities in the nation and the only city in Georgia in this effort, and I am happy to join President Obama and the other members of Cities United to help create a comprehensive plan to address this critical problem facing America.”
Cities United was launched under the leadership of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu with support from National League of Cities, Casey Family Programs and Open Society Foundations. In breakout sessions Thursday and Friday, participants tackled topics that included: Effective Strategies for Engaging Black Men; Rethinking Juvenile Justice; Restorative Justice: A Tool for Community Healing; Educating for a Strong Community; Leveraging Philanthropic Partnerships; and Integrated Response for Long-Term Impact.
"In Philadelphia, young African American men and boys are 80 percent of the homicide victims and 75 percent of all the arrests we make for violent crime," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "Across America, black victims are nearly half of all homicides even though they are only 13 percent of the population. Those numbers are staggering and cannot be ignored. The future of our nation depends on safe, prosperous communities where everyone has an opportunity to feel safe and succeed.
“Cities United helps mayors and city leaders focus on prevention rather than prosecution, intervention rather than incarceration, and provides data and tools to topple systemic barriers to opportunity facing African American men and boys. Together, we can expand support and intervention for these young men to prevent – and possibly even end – the violence in our cities."
The conference features a number of prominent speakers, including: Karol V. Mason, assistant attorney general, Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice; Dr. William C. Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs; Professor Pedro Noguera, executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; and Shawn Dove, manager of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.
"Cities United is an important platform for mayors and cities to bring attention to the importance of young African American men and to share ideas about how to tackle the pressing epidemic of violence," added New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "By implementing a comprehensive approach, we are having early success in New Orleans. But one murder is too many, and we will not rest until we come together as a country to address these issues."
About Cities United
Cities United is a national movement to equip mayors and local leaders with the tools, practices, skills and resources needed to effectively eliminate the violence-related deaths of African American men and boys. Cities United was launched in 2011 under the leadership of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu with support from the National League of Cities, Casey Family Programs and the Open Society Foundations' Campaign for Black Male Achievement. Additional support comes from the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation.