For Immediate Release
Date: November 16, 2015
Mayor Jackson held a news conference at City Hall today on recent gun violence. Her statement is below.
The news conference can also be viewed online at https://youtu.be/qoU1yDHZJhQ.
Edna Jackson – Gun Violence Remarks, Nov. 16, 2015:
Thank you for joining me today.
It’s another perfect fall day in Savannah, but once again we find ourselves a community in mourning. Two more young people are dead following a weekend of violence.
We often refer to these incidents as fatal shootings. But that minimizes the severity of these crimes. They’re homicides, plain and simple. It’s past time to get real about these things.
The details of the two latest homicide victims – Robert Brown and Emanuel Simmons -- are all too familiar: Young men, out on the streets in the early morning hours. Both were shot on Montgomery Street, which has seen all too many shootings lately.
Police are still investigating, but if these crimes follow pattern then Mr. Brown and Mr. Simmons likely knew the men who murdered them. They almost always do.
And that’s the problem with Savannah today. It’s a problem all of Savannah shares, but it’s most pronounced in the African-American community. That’s where most of these homicides occur.
What we have are young black men using guns to settle beefs with each other. Sometimes it’s about drugs. Sometimes it’s about debts. And sometimes it’s about some confused notion of respect or disrespect.
We have an anger problem in Savannah people. Too many of our children believe that the quickest way to solve their problem is with a gun.
You could blame guns, but I won’t do that today. Guns are way too available on our streets. But I am convinced our State legislators will only act to make guns more accessible. Complaining about guns in Georgia is like complaining about the heat in August. It does no good.
You could blame Police, but I will not. The reality is our Police officers cannot be on every corner and in every home in Savannah. Our Police Department’s clearance rate is above the national average, and our Police Chief is well on his way to making SCMPD the best-trained police department in the South.
You could blame the Police vacancy rate, but that would NOT be accurate. In August we increased salaries for almost all of our Police officers, to make our pay the most competitive in the Southeast. The results have been dramatic. Our Police vacancy rate has been cut in half since the City took this action. The first three months of 2015, we averaged just 45 applications submitted per month. In August, September and October, we averaged 158 applications submitted per month. We are filling our ranks with some of the best recruits we’ve ever had.
You could blame a national increase in violent crime, but I won’t. Communities across America are trying to figure out why their violent crime numbers are exploding this year. I maintain that Savannah’s problems are our own problems, and we will solve them with a strategy that works for Savannah.
Chief Lumpkin is investing in new technology and new training, and changing the way our beats are patrolled. Our End Gun Violence initiative will target those most likely to pull a trigger. These will make a difference, but they will not by themselves solve our violent crime problem.
The reality is this problem is much deeper and complex than these answers. We’ve got an anger problem in Savannah. Too many young people are being raised to believe that a gun is the easiest way to solve all their problems.
Our parents, our clergy, our leaders need to begin talking about the value of life. And they need to teach our young people about the consequences of their actions.
Pulling a drive-by because of some stupid disrespect does NOT make you a man. It makes you a coward. And it will ruin your life.
Police have solved close to 60 percent of homicides in Savannah this year. These criminals will spend most of their lives in prison. When they get out, they will have no family, no job. They will be branded a convicted felon until the day they die. Only then will they truly understand the meaning of the word respect.
Every life matters. It’s as simple as that. But until Savannah develops a culture that embraces this idea, nothing will change.
And our young people will keep dying on our streets.
Being the Mayor of Savannah means I take responsibility for what happens in my community. I accept that. But I maintain that nothing will change until we all rise up and take back control together. I ask the citizens of Savannah to join me.
Thank you for your time. And God bless Savannah.