Mayor Fischer's June 16 update on public safety efforts
Edited remarks made on Friday, June 16, by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer during the WLOU Prayer Breakfast. Listen to the remarks here. Mayor Fischer and the Ali Center are hosting a community conversation on peace and safety on July 6.
As mayor, I have the immense privilege of seeing our community on a deep, personal level.
I celebrate with you, I mourn with you. Your smiles melt my heart; your tears harden my resolve.
I know our toughest challenges, like poverty, lack of hope and gun violence, are rooted in our country’s history and will take time to resolve.
But, I believe in our city, our families. I believe compassion means allowing the human potential of every Louisvillian in every ZIP code to flourish.
And I believe that working together, we can create an even greater city where everyone can succeed, where everyone can find a good job and live without violence.
It’s important to understand that the violence affecting, in large part, the neighborhoods of west Louisville, is not a simple problem with a simple solution.
As a community, our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that, like most U.S. cities, Louisville is seeing a surge in homicides and gang activity, and is part of a national epidemic of illegal drugs. All of that decimates the possibilities we see for our children, brothers and sisters, our grandchildren.
So what to do? Well, to solve a problem, we must first understand it.
We must understand the historic injustice of racism that created concentrated neighborhoods of poverty, where some people see no hope, no future.
We must understand that housing redlining and decades of disinvestment created conditions that today foster violence.
We must understand that urban renewal wiped out a generation of black-owned businesses — and a generation of wealth.
We must understand that white privilege is real – not for guilt, but so we open a lens of understanding that moves us to create justice, opportunity for all.
And we must understand that one person alone cannot solve — or be blamed for — our challenges.
A police chief alone can’t solve this problem.
A minister alone cannot solve this problem.
A metro councilperson alone cannot solve this problem.
A mayor alone cannot solve this problem.
A citizen alone cannot solve this problem.
There is power in partnerships. Look at creation. Our Creator says to hydrogen, you can’t do much by yourself, so hook up with oxygen. A hydrogen-oxygen partnership equals water.
Again in creation: Bees hive, wolves hunt in packs, lions run in prides, ants colonize, fish swim in schools, birds fly in flocks.
Dinosaurs lived by themselves, and they are gone. But bees are still hiving; birds are still flocking. Why? They have learned to work together.
Psalm 133:1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
And from Ecclesiastes, “Two can resist an attack that would defeat one.” And, “A rope of three cords is hard to break.”
In other words, we don’t need solo voices — we need a choir.
We need more leaders like the Rev. Charles Elliott, who not only brings Jesus to people, but to a job.
Like the Rev. Kevin Cosby, who not only shepherds a church, but builds a college to educate generations of young men and women.
We need more entrepreneurs like Damon Duvall of the Parkland Laundromat, and like Pam Haines, who vowed -- even after vandals repeatedly broke her restaurant windows – that they would not break her soul or her business.
We need more people like Passport CEO Mark Carter, Mike Mays of Heine Brothers and Scott Kolom of Facilities Management Services, all of whom have moved their headquarters to west Louisville.
But we also need government do its part. Government helped create the unjust past. Government must do its part to create a just future.
While most of the financial resources needed for big dollar assistance are at the federal and state levels, the government closest to the people – city government - must strive to transform with the tools we have.
As your Mayor, I must be clear-eyed about challenges, even as I work to build our city and sow optimism about its future.
And from an investment standpoint in west Louisville, there is much to be optimistic about: We have over $400 million in total designated for the Russell Neighborhood transformation, the Waterfront Park expansion, and the new YMCA and Passport headquarters at 18th and Broadway.
This will be the largest investment in west Louisville in at least 50 years.
Still, many people cannot yet feel the benefits of these investments. That’s why we also invest in our people.
Metro government has 40-plus programs and policies to help with job training, whole child development, re-entry, summer jobs, violence interruption, racial equity and more.
Our city has a comprehensive plan to decrease violence, built around six pillars: enforcement, intervention, prevention, community mobilization, organizational change, and re-entry. Read our plan at louisvilleky.gov/bethe1.
You know the people who are working on this with me, people like Anthony Smith, Yvette Gentry, Rashaad Abdur Rahman, Steve Conrad and the LMPD team, Dr. Eddie Woods, Rev. Vincent James, Sadiqa Reynolds.
If you want to be a part of the change, if you have the courage to help us tear apart old cycles and build new ones, join us.
If you are already helping — working to build a safe and more prosperous future - I thank you and ask for your continued help.
Now is no time to point fingers. It is time to focus and work together.
I hope you will take three things away from these remarks:
1) We have plans to tackle the pervasive issues that contribute to violence.
2) We are making historic investments in the people and places of west Louisville.
3) Many of us wake up every day, roll up our sleeves, and get to work with great intensity to make our city safer. But our sons and daughters need ALL OF US to do this life-saving work.