Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges hosted a national conference on combating youth violence and fielded questions from the media about a recent spate of shootings in her own downtown entertainment district, reports KARE-TV.
“It’s wrong, it’s bad, it should not happen in our city,” Hodges said. “It did happen in our city. And we are doing everything we can to find whatever strategies we can to end that violence.”
She said she’s working with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to map out a plan after two recent gun fights that resulted in injuries to innocent bystanders. Other mayors on hand for the Cities United Conference came to Hodges’ defense, noting that outbreaks of gun violence are not unique to Minneapolis and are the result of many complex factors including increased access to firearms.
“In many of our cities, unfortunately, they are seeing upticks in crime – big cities, medium size and small,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Cities United co-founder.
The mission of Cities United is to strengthen cities by helping city leaders trade ideas and learn from the experience of others about what innovations have worked. The fourth annual convening of the organization in Minneapolis was devoted to finding ways to save young people, especially African-American and Native American males, from the epidemic of gun violence.
“The reality is most of these kids involved in this violence have not received love, support, expectations or discipline,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, noting that the underlying conditions that were not created overnight and will take time to solve. The mayors group takes a holistic approach, recognizing the importance of access to housing, jobs, mental health services and reforms making it easier for former offenders to reenter communities.