Local leaders address violence at conference
Mayor Turner speaks at local conference on violence.

Mayor Sylvester Turner is speaking out after a local pastor claims Houston is the most dangerous city in America.

“Despite what some may say, even from the pulpit, Houston is not the murder capital in this country,” Turner said, referring to a  comment by Second Baptist Church Ed Young who recently used his sermon to blast Houston’s crime problems, which he said was caused by “left-wing progressives in office.”

“If Houston and Harris County is to survive, we had better throw those bums out of office, they are not doing the job that we called them to,” Young said during his sermon.

“That is factually not true and people should not be saying it to gain some political benefit. Facts from the pulpit should still matter,” Turner replied.”I was disappointed when a faith-based leader from the pulpit talks about we’re not doing our jobs and calling people bums.”

The mayor made his comments at a Violence Prevention Conference hosted at NRG Center this week. He says despite the high rate of crime, Houston is not the “murder capital” of the United States.

The conference brought together local leaders, professionals and practitioners from a broad spectrum of disciplines working to address violence in their communities. In addition, leaders discussed best practices to implement and evaluate sustainable prevention programs to respond to violence and victims. Attendees included officials who work in public policy, social justice, law enforcement, public health, academia, community and non-profit organizations.

Turner said a total of $2.5 million has been used for the implementation of the Cure Violence Program in targeted communities. In addition, the mayor said the city helped the youth with the Hire Houston Youth program by providing 14,000 job opportunities for youth ages 16-24 this summer. The goal is to take that number up to 20,000.

“Do we want to provide support to our police? Yes, and are we doing that? Yes. But at the same time, let’s be very clear that we are dealing with a public health crisis,” Turner said. “And if we don’t respond accordingly, we are not going to make our city safer.”

Each year, the conference aims to help leaders examine the issue of violence and identify the root causes with evidence-based policy and public health approaches.