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BLACK MAYORS UNITED: Young invites other Black mayors to Memphis to collaborate on crime

In an unprecedented move to address the rising concerns of crime across the nation, Memphis Mayor Paul Young, in collaboration with the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), has unveiled the Black Mayors’ Coalition on Crime (BMCC).

And they’re meeting this week for the first time — here in Memphis.

This groundbreaking initiative aims to unify black mayors throughout the United States to devise and implement effective crime-fighting strategies. The coalition’s inaugural meeting is slated for March 27-28 in Memphis, drawing participation from 21 mayors and representatives from Southern states like Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina and Georgia.

There will also be representatives from cities in Arizona, Indiana and Washington, D.C. But the effort also has engaged the mayors of America’s two largest cities: Mayor Eric Adams of New York City and Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles.

“For the first time in history, we have an unprecedented number of black mayors in some of our biggest cities,” Young said in a statement. “Others, like myself, represent millions of Americans in small-to-medium and large-sized cities across the country.”

“Many of these leaders come from the communities most affected by crime, so they have a unique perspective on solving it,” he added.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams echoed the sentiment.

“Across our great and diverse country, there’s one thing that every city has in common: public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity,” Adams said in a press release. “As a former police officer, I know firsthand that public safety is not just about keeping people safe — it is also about making sure people feel safe.

“I applaud Mayor Young for convening the Black Mayors Coalition on Crime to have an honest conversation around protecting our cities and delivering peace of mind at a time when our communities need it most,” Adams said.

The two-day summit will be facilitated by Dr. Russell Wigginton, President of the National Civil Rights Museum, and promises to be a blend of keynote speeches and case study presentations. Highlighted initiatives like “Operation SCARLET” from Charlotte, NC, and “Operation Good” from Jackson, MS, will offer insights into successful crime reduction strategies.

Young campaigned on bringing a fresh and comprehensive approach to crime, and he’s been pounding that message since being sworn in Jan. 1. He attended a vigil commemorating the fatal 2022 beating of Tyre Nichols in January. In February, he made his rounds around the city on a listening tour.

With the coalition, he believes that through collaboration, mayors can forge a powerful collective voice that can spur significant policy changes and resource allocations to tackle crime effectively.

“The time is now for us to speak with one voice, to call for national and local policy change and funding, and to share our collective learnings to create the meaningful change that will reduce crime in all of our communities,” said Young.

While the BMCC currently focuses on black mayors, Young is open to contributions from any leader committed to addressing crime.

“My hope is that this will be the start of a broad ongoing national effort to find real solutions to this very complex issue,” he said. “I believe we can leverage our collective platforms to create change in the policies, laws, and resources needed to reverse the trend and heal our communities.

“We cannot wait.”

Phyllis Dickerson, CEO of the African American Mayors Association, expressed her support for the initiative, praising Mayor Young’s leadership.

“I welcome this initiative, and I am energized to see a new, young mayor step up in a leadership role to tackle this issue,” she said. “He has our full support, and I’m confident other mayors will join him.”

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