Tags: Baltimore | unrest | Mitch Landrieu | Ras Baraka

New Orleans Mayor: We Ignore Race Issue 'At Our Own Peril'

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015 03:04 PM

As violence continues on the streets of Baltimore, perhaps no group of individuals is looking at the riots with more concern than mayors who fear a similar situation breaking out in their cities.

"This whole country needs to come to grips with the fact that we haven't solved the issues of race. If you haven't been paying attention for the past 24 to 36 months in America then you're missing something that's really important," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu at Politico Magazine's What Works conference.

The conference is part of a year-long series of articles in Politico Magazine that features innovative ideas that are emerging from cities across the United States at a time of unprecedented urban reinvention, including New Orleans.

"We ignore this at our own peril," said Landrieu, who also noted that, unlike members of Congress, "there is no distance between a mayor and what happens on the ground."

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras Baraka shared Landrieu's concern, saying that the situation in Baltimore is "scary to me."

Some believe the violence and rioting in Baltimore and other cities should be seized upon by leaders as an opportunity to reinvent and reinvigorate their communities.

"If we stop [at the immediate crisis] we're losing a critical opportunity to focus on the way that cities will have to re-imagine themselves," said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which formed a partnership with New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to rebuild the city.

Ironically, several months ago, in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri and a Baltimore Sun investigation which documented cases of alleged police brutality since 2011, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake approached the Maryland legislature about considering bills that would create a new felony charge, rather than the current misdemeanor charge, for officers accused of assaults, according to The Baltimore Sun.

"We've made a lot of progress in repairing the breach between the police and the community. But I think it would be unwise of us to stop there. This legislation is about continuing to press forward," said Rawlings-Blake when she announced her proposals.

However, Rawlings-Blake finds herself under criticism for how the city handled the outbreak of violence and protests which started over the weekend and has resulted in injuries to 15 police officers, as well as the torching and looting of businesses, reports Reuters.

"The mayor of Baltimore had the city of Baltimore police on the ground. Quite frankly, they were overwhelmed. All the rest of the (boots) on the ground came from us," said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who has stated that he was in contact with the mayor but she opted not to call in the National Guard in the initial stages of the riots.

President Barack Obama also reacted to the violence during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"What I'd say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time," said Obama, who said the nation and communities need to do some "soul-searching," reports USA Today.

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As violence continues on the streets of Baltimore, perhaps no group of individuals is looking at the riots with more concern than mayors who fear a similar situation breaking out in their cities.
Baltimore, unrest, Mitch Landrieu, Ras Baraka
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2015-04-28
Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015 03:04 PM
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