The mayor of Meridian spoke out on Tuesday after the community demanded answers as to why there is continued violence in the community and what the administration is doing to end it.
Several community members showed up at the mayor’s press conference looking to get answers.
A concern stated by citizens was the lack of transparency between the administration and the community.
"He had no answers. There's really no substance to the meeting, but "We're trying". "I think we should expect more from our leaders than simply, “I'm just trying”, stated Jerome Robert, Pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church. “Every plan has communication. It has stakeholders and it has people who are held accountable. And we did not hear that."
Pastor Robert also felt that when tragedies occur in the city, such as the recent shootings and murders, Mayor Smith should be in front of the community addressing the affair.
“We had blood on the street in Meridian, and no one stepped up and said anything. We had a five-year-old killed and there was no press conference. We've seen good leadership from the city of Buffalo, as soon as they had a tragedy, their mayor was out there at the forefront. Our mayor has not been transparent and has not been out before the people and all we want is communication.”
To reduce crime the mayor is looking to enforce a curfew the city already has in place. Monday through Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. children are to be inside.
“Well, the curfew is already in place, but what we're going to do is ask the council to enhance that curfew, modifying it to help”, stated Mayor Smith. “Maybe if they get a juvenile that’s out there, maybe that parent needs to be charged with something as well. So, I mean, that's a possibility, something that we're looking at and we're going to be talking with the council in the future and dealing with that.
Apart from the mayor, ward 4 councilwoman, Romande Gail Walker, was the only city leader at the press conference. In a press conference held to address crime, citizens questioned why the police chief was not in attendance.
“Today it was kind of a disappointment”, stated Robert. “The person who is over controlling crime in the city was not at the meeting. That tells the citizens that they don't care about the opinion of the citizens. You at least have to step up. Good, bad, or otherwise, and hear what the citizens have to say.”
The mayor stated that as far as transparency, the community will know who is being arrested, but anything else will be kept.