Melissa Harris-Perry | June 03, 2012
HARRIS-PERRY: Last night, tragedy struck Toronto , when a gunman opened fire in a shopping mall, killing one and injuring seven other people. And in the U.S. , all eyes were in Seattle this week where a lone gunman killed five people before taking his own life. These are the type of murders that make national news, random, tragic and caused by a single, often mentally ill individual. But these are not the kinds of gun crimes that take American lives on a daily basis. In my city, people die every day -- literally every day. The murder rate in New Orleans is one of the highest in the country. And the city emerged from a Memorial Day weekend with four shootings and three deaths in one day. Including a 33-year-old woman, a 5-year-old girl who were shot and killed when shooting erupted outside on the 10-year-old's birthday party on Tuesday. And in Chicago , another city where I love, 10 people were killed and dozens were wounded in shootings during the holiday weekend. These shootings aren't random. They are part of a pattern of crime , violence and death that have gripped these cities. One of the surprising trends of the economic downturns that begin in 2008 is that most cities did not see a spike in violent crime at the same time. Now, criminologists have linked to unemployment, housing displacement and other economic factors. And those criminologists have been scratching their heads over the past couple of years asking, where is the violence? Well, cities like New Orleans and Chicago , both about to enter a long, hot summer marked by youth unemployment and deep cuts in programs by states are raising their hands to say, the violence is right here. Virginia Governor Doug wilder is back and joining us is National Urban League president and CEO, Marc Morial . He's also a former mayor of the city of New Orleans . Thank you, gentlemen.
MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Great to be with you .
HARRIS-PERRY: So both of you have been mayors. Marc , you of New Orleans , and Governor Wilder , mayor of Richmond . What is the fundamental issue when it comes to urban violence? Not the random violence but the systematic violence?
MORIAL: The fundamental issue, I believe, in thinking about how you fix it, how you do something about it, is to recognize that policing a loan will not do it. Youth programs alone will not do it. Restrictions on guns alone will not do it. Drug interventions alone will not do it. Drug interventions alone will not do it. There must be a coordinated, comprehensive effort in order to confront it. The jobs situation, I don't care what anyone says, has exacerbated the sense of alienation, the sense of people being locked out, left out in urban communities, and is a significant contributing factor in places like New Orleans and Chicago and many others.
HARRIS-PERRY: The feeling of being besieged is one that it goes so far beyond just these individuals, the idea of a little girl's birthday party becoming a space where shootings and murders happen. I live in the Seventh Ward and the idea that on our block, we have had shootings happened. My daughter spent summers in Chicago with her dad. It just literally that kind of gripping feeling of here. How do you move citizens to a feeling of having a sense of empowerment in the context of this?
WILDER: I agree with Marc in terms of no entity singly can handle that. What we did when I was mayor and had an excellent police chief was to make sure that we had sector policing. In other words, the people in the community knew every policeman in that sector. The policeman knew that family. So in other words, not just in crime but for any occasion. So, if you want to report something, rather than pick up 911, call that sector guide because he is there. The other thing is --
HARRIS-PERRY: A kind of basic notion of community policing that links to the police that is not this outside force that are imposing something on you.
MORIAL: And visible at churches and community --
MORIAL: -- activities -and a sense of trust that's built, not a sense of distance.
WILDER: That's correct.
HARRIS-PERRY: Let's be real. Part of what makes that possible -- so, I hear you talk about the comprehensive plan. Part what makes that possible is resources.
MORIAL: Money . Money counts.
HARRIS-PERRY: We were looking at your record as mayor, Marc , between 1994 and 1999 , the murder rate in the city of New Orleans feel by 63 percent, assaults by 60 percent, armed robberies down to 39. I like you. I think you are a great leader. But I got to say there seems to have inputs here that made that possible.
MORIAL: The Clinton administration in a sense of community policing , we had an aggressively tripling of youth recreation department programs and dollars. We had a massive increase in summer youth employment. And you had -- and I think this is something that is missing. You had community leaders and elected officials who said, enough is enough, that we are going to say that this is a problem and we're not going to work on it and we're not going to take simplistic, rhetoric driven solutions. We're going to try to move the ball. In the '90s, the economy was a lot better.
MORIAL: Since that time, the nation has invested in wars, it's invested in homeland security. This issue has not been enough of a front burner issue. More people have died due to gun violence in our cities than overseas in the last decade.
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. And, you know, as we come back, I want to figure out this question because one of the things that I find most exciting about an Obama presidency, is the idea that we're going to have urban president, right? Beyond the question of race or even being a Democrat was the idea that he came from a city and maybe cities would be at the front of the agenda. So, I want to talk and I'm going to bring other voices in, but I want to talk about how do we get our cities on a national agenda. It's an election year. Let's do some agenda-setting. Coming up, why those budgets cuts can be quite dangerous and how cutting social services dramatically affects the crime rate .