Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, along with new Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, traveled to New Orleans recently to participate in the annual Cities United meeting that explored solutions to reduce the appalling number of violent deaths of young African American men.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu first launched Cities United in 2011, and have since produced a growing network of 56 mayors who collaborate to inform and equip local officials with the tools, practices, skills and resources required to reduce and hopefully eliminate violence-related deaths for young African American men.  The program is located at the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families.

The event was a two-day session that brought 225 officials and staff members from 37 cities to create a course of action that will put a stop to homicide as the leading cause of death for young African American men. Their goal is to reduce the number of deaths by 50 percent in the 15-24-age range.  Sadly, there were seven homicide victims in the past two years in Allentown that fall into that category.

“As leaders, our greatest responsibility is protecting the safety and prosperity of the city and our residents. That means preventing violence and investing in the opportunities that we all need to feel better about our future. We all have a stake in keeping our streets and our young people safe, and in strengthening the city so that everyone can achieve their full potential,” said Mayor Pawlowski.

By participating in the meeting, Pawlowski hopes to be able to replenish the hope and opportunities available to the young African American and Latino men who are affected by violence. The topics covered at the meeting include effective strategies for engaging black men, rethinking juvenile justice, restorative justice as a tool for community healing, educating for a strong community, leveraging philanthropic partnerships, and developing strategies that ensure a long-term impact.