Washington, D.C. - Activists with the Project 21 black leadership network are commending Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter (D) for giving young people a blunt wake-up call regarding self-destructive behavior.
"Mayor Nutter deserves credit for stepping up and being a leader," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "Nutter is doing what Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, President Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus have thus far failed to do by speaking out against the epidemic of violent 'flash mobs' and rampant, random crime and violence."
Project 21 spokesman Jerome Hudson supports Nutter's get-tough attitude, adding that parents who aren't on the mayor's bandwagon already should join it: "I applaud Mayor Nutter for his effort to quell the violent flash mobs. However, disciplinary action such as curfews should be made and enforced by parents and not the police. If one likely underlying cause -- a soaring number of single-mother households -- is not addressed, these misguided teenagers will continue to be a scourge to society. Ultimately, the transmission of self-control and self-respect can only come from inside the home and not city hall."
On August 8, Mayor Nutter imposed a 9:00 PM weekend curfew for youth under the age of 18 in Philadelphia and gave a stern lecture to the city's youth and their parents about dignity, values and how they relate to success. Nutter said:
Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer... Pull your pants up and buy a belt, 'cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.... If you walk into somebody's office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied and your pants half-down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won't hire you? They don't hire you 'cause you look like you're crazy. You have damaged your own race.
"While people have been fixated on raising the nation's debt ceiling, we've ignored the need for raising our moral ceiling," added Project 21's Borelli. "With the declining economy, we've seen people abandon the values that built our nation. It's a double-whammy. It poses us with the challenge of both jump-starting the economy and civil society."
Hudson addressed youth lawlessness in a June column in Human Events, "Lower the Debt Ceiling and Raise Our Moral Ceiling," in which he referred to "...neighborhoods where shattered families and unwed (regularly teenage) mothers produce unruly youths, who are often housed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, doctored by Medicaid, taught by Head Start and fed by food stamps. And this culture perpetuates the same self-defeating behavior: lawlessness, dropping out and drug abuse. In the end, it's nothing but misery, and the most shrunken scoop of existence that endorses a poverty both moral and spiritual."
Borelli addressed the issue of violent "flash mobs" and declining morality that is seemingly linked to the economic downturn in a July 14 Daily Caller commentary and during appearances this week on the Fox News Channel and syndicated G. Gordon Liddy talk radio show. In the Daily Caller, Borelli noted: "As more and more experienced adults lose their jobs, they are pushed into positions once dominated by young people. This fosters despondency among youth and creates idle time and minds that are the Devil's playground... Without a significant economic turnaround, this summer may be a tragic one. Until the economy recovers, we can expect to see more crime, more violence and more misery."
The Philadelphia NAACP chapter is supporting Mayor Nutter's comments, with local chapter president J. Whyatt Mondesire saying Nutter's comments "took courage." Responding to the fact that Nutter's comments being directed specifically at black youth in Philadelphia, Mondesire said, "These are majority African-American youths and they need to be called on it."
Flash mobs, mostly perpetuated by young people, have been reported in Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).
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