Birmingham community eager to learn more about federal crime-fighting program

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Fears about what a new federal crime-fighting program could mean for people living in Birmingham has sparked a special community meeting Monday.

Birmingham city leaders and members of Black Lives Matter, National Action Network, and several church members plan to talk about what the Department of Justice plans to do in Birmingham to help reduce crime.

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department picked 12 cities for a program called the Public Safety Partnership. Attorney General Sessions claims the program is needed to address increased violence in many cities across the country.

Under the plan, consultants will help police develop strategies to combat crime. The program would also provide more federal resources to each city and help assist prosecutors and local law enforcement.

Eric Hall is one of the co-founders of the Birmingham chapter of Black Lives Matter. He tells CBS42 he’s concerned this federal program will not get to the root of the problem.

“No, that will not help reduce crime here in Birmingham,” Hall said. “The issue of crime here in Birmingham is poverty, and statistics show that when you have an area that’s concentrated with high poverty, that’s when violence will tend to increase.”

Councilor Sheila Tyson tells CBS42 she doesn’t know what to expect from the new program. She says she hasn’t heard anything from the Justice Department.

“Remember the crack epidemic?” Tyson asked. “They went in and start busting peoples doors in with these iron pipes. They had tanks coming into the neighborhoods. Of course, the citizens are going to be startled and call their council person.”

Monday’s meeting is at the Pratt City Branch Public Library at 10 a.m.

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