Nutter on urban violence: All hands need to help

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Mayor Nutter praised Comcast for its contributions to Philadelphia, but said he will push for the best deal during the franchise renewal. (MATT ROURKE/Associated Press)

Local government cannot by itself fix problems of violence and unemployment like those brought to light in last week's Baltimore protests, Mayor Nutter said Sunday.

Government, philanthropies, and corporations must cooperate to provide education and create employment for struggling inner-city residents, particularly in communities of color, to improve conditions in America, he said.

Nutter appeared on the CNN talk show State of the Union with William A. Bell, mayor of Birmingham, Ala.; and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.).

Last week, protests and riots rocked Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who died after suffering injuries in police custody.

Before Gray was arrested on April 12, he hung out on the streets because he couldn't find a job. He, like others in similar circumstances, had "no role models, no efforts to really bring substantial support for him to have a decent life," Bell said.

That problem plays out in cities across the nation, he said.

Long-term unemployment and underemployment, especially among young African American men, is one of the key issues America must address, Nutter said. Economic development is essential to make improvements, he said.

"Whether it's in Baltimore or Philly or Birmingham or the like, that's really what will lift everyone up," he said.

Bell said the federal government had stagnated in the last six or seven years.

"At the local government level, we've had to come together and cobble ways to use the resources to strengthen our communities and neighborhoods," Bell said.

Last week, Nutter and Bell were part of the second convening of Cities United, a national partnership of local government cofounded by Nutter to eliminate violence-related deaths of African American men.

CNN host Michael Smerconish, whose column appears in the Currents section of The Inquirer, asked Nutter whether he would ask Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to stop low-level crime enforcement in order to reduce the number of young black men in prison.

"That's insane," Nutter said. "People want safe neighborhoods."

He added: "It's not about making a false choice between enforcing the law on violent crime vs. nonviolent crime. . . . What needs to happen is investments in education, employment, and training programs."

 


jmcdaniel@philly.com

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