50th Commemoration: Reed, Obama discuss youth violence as world prepares for bell-ringing at 3 p.m.
By David Pendered
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was among the group of 18 mayors who met Tuesday at the White House with President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss strategies to reduce youth violence.
The meeting came as some in the nation are looking for ways to continue to the spirit of progress observed in the 50th commemoration, on Wednesday, of the March on Washington and its message of jobs, justice and freedom.
In Atlanta, city council President Ceasar Mitchell has urged those in the city, and nation, to join in the “Let Freedom Ring” celebration. At precisely 3 p.m., local time, bells and devices that sound like bells are set to ring across the globe, according to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
At the White House, Obama pledged to do all he could to support the mayors in their efforts to address youth violence.
Obama pledged executive action and conversations with Congress to address gun violence by expanding the background check system and curbing gun trafficking.
Reed, in a statement issued Tuesday at 10 p.m., emphasized his efforts to halt teen violence by providing alternatives to pathways to violence.
“We have a responsibility to shape our children’s’ futures,” Reed said in the statement. “They need positive role models to guide and mentor them, so they don’t make the wrong choices that lead to a criminal life.”
Atlanta police Chief George Turner attended the White House meeting and said in the statement that police intend to help children before there’s a need to arrest them.
“We want our officers to reach children on the front end, through athletic and life skills programs,” said Chief Turner, “rather than reaching them later when we are forced to place them in handcuffs due to their poor choices.”
Mitchell is leading an effort around Atlanta to bolster participation in the “Let Freedom Ring” program that’s eminating from the MLK center.
“At this exact moment, I am encouraging everyone in Atlanta and across the country — whether in groups or individually — to pause, reflect and commemorate this most historic event in our nation’s history,” Mitchell said in a statement. “If you don’t have a bell to ring, then set your smartphone alarm to go off at this precise time. Our collective act of solidarity is the least we can do in honor of what Dr. King and the March On Washington accomplished in making the United States and the world a better place.”