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CUOMO HOLDS FORUM ON MAKING AMERICA’S CITIES SAFER
WASHINGTON – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo was joined by Harvard Professor Cornel West, the Rev. Eugene Rivers and former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton at a forum to discuss ways to build on the crime reductions of the last five years to make America’s cities safer.
The HUD Community 2020 Forum focused on how to best maintain safe streets and neighborhoods by strengthening families, building new relationships between police and communities, and learning what is working at the block and neighborhood level across the country.
Discussing the forum, President Clinton said: “This type of exchange is exactly what we need to have more of – involving and empowering communities. By bringing together important figures in academia and public service, Secretary Cuomo is injecting current theory and debate into national policy.”
Cuomo told more than 1,000 people attending the seminar: “Crime fueled the exodus to the suburbs. It preys on the most vulnerable among us ... our seniors and the poor ... the poor are victimized at twice the rate of richer Americans.”
Cuomo praised law enforcement agencies for helping to bring the crime rate down, but he added: “You have to do more than enforcement, you must also have a soft heart.”
West -- who is Professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy of Religion at Harvard, the author of 12 books and a noted expert on challenges facing African Americans --said it is important to find the means to reconstitute the American family and community, and called for a return to a “sense of service to some higher cause ... an ascent of the role of citizenship.”
Rev. Eugene Rivers is an African American clergyman who has won national recognition for his pioneering programs to help young people in Boston’s inner city improve their lives and turn away from crime, gangs and drugs. He said: “The clergy must step beyond their pulpits and pews and into the streets. The faith community must become more responsive to those who are suffering.”
Rivers called the creation of HUD’s Community Builders Program and Center for Interfaith Partnerships “revolutionary ideas that will provide the context and space for dialogue that can generate measurable outcomes.”
William Bratton has headed five police departments, including New York City’s, and is known for his effective and innovative anti-crime strategies. He said: “There’s not a cop in America today who wouldn’t prefer to save a (potential) victim than inform a family member about a victim.”
Two weeks ago President Clinton released his second State of the Cities report, which showed that despite a booming economy, cities still face challenges in increasing the supply of affordable housing, job creation, and education.
The forum Thursday was the fifth in an on-going series hosted by Cuomo examining the future of American cities. Previous seminars have included discussions on jobs and the economy, race, housing discrimination and homelessness.
The Community 2020 series brings together some of the nation’s most noted experts to explore the future of America’s communities and metropolitan regions. The goal of the forum is to find ways to better prepare neighborhoods and families meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009