Mayor Rogero Joins Community Leaders in Violence Prevention Efforts

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Mayor Rogero Joins Community Leaders in Violence Prevention Efforts

Posted: 02/27/2014
February 27, 2014 - This week, Mayor Madeline Rogero led a delegation of local community leaders to a National League of Cities conference on violence prevention and strategies for building safe, healthy and hopeful communities.

The conference, called "Cities United: A Convening of Mayors Committed to Eliminating Violence-Related Deaths of African-American Males," was held in New Orleans on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 26 and 27. Mayor Rogero joined 20 mayors and 225 local officials and staff from 37 cities at the inaugural Cities United meeting.

The purpose of the initiative is to promote achievement and reduce violence-related deaths among African-American men and boys. It is also in line with the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative announced by President Barack Obama on Thursday, which will focus on key moments in the lives of young black men where interventions have been shown to have the greatest impact - for example, making sure children arrive at school ready to learn, and reducing negative interactions with the criminal justice system.

"Since last summer, I have been meeting with a small advisory group of local ministers, community leaders, Councilman and former Mayor Daniel Brown and Police Chief David Rausch to study issues related to violence in our local neighborhoods and to talk about how to best coordinate our resources and efforts," Mayor Rogero said. "As in many other cities, African-American males in Knoxville make up a disproportionate share of those affected by violence. This conference has given us a chance to learn from the experiences of other cities and help us think about the next steps we can take here."

Accompanying Mayor Rogero to the conference were Thomas "Tank" Strickland Jr., the City's Director of Community Relations; the Rev. Daryl Arnold, pastor of Overcoming Believers Church; the Rev. Dr. John A. Butler, pastor of Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church and presiding elder of the Knoxville district; and Andre Canty, youth community activist and president of 100 Black Men of Knoxville.

The delegation's expenses were covered by the National League of Cities and the Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville.

Arnold said he welcomed the opportunity for leaders across the country to share ideas.

"The Bible talks about iron sharpening iron," Arnold said. "When we put our heads together on a common problem, we have a better resolution together than if we worked apart."

For Arnold, the need to form a strategy to address youth violence is both urgent and personal. He said he's performed about 60 funeral services in the past decade involving young crime victims - most of them not members of his own church. Arnold said he is often sought out by victims' families communitywide and considers the funeral services to be "an opportunity to raise questions and to refocus young people."

Butler agreed that a broad strategy with many partners is what's needed.

"We need to address the violence in our community with a community-based approach," said Butler, who's also president of Knoxville Interdenominational Christian Ministerial Alliance and of the Knoxville NAACP. "We are learning how other cities have gotten their communities engaged. It needs to be a community-based solution, not just looking at government for a solution. That's critical for me."

Mayor Rogero plans this year to broaden the discussion of black male achievement and violence prevention, with opportunities for public input and community outreach.