Following a protest downtown Friday, April 16, Up & Coming Weekly asked Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin to respond to claims that little has been done in the last year to address discrimination and local policing practices. Mayor Colvin's response is printed below.
As millions of people across our nation grapple with the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others at the hands of injustice, the call to stand together as a community grows louder. The tragedies we have all witnessed across this nation are heartbreaking, and we must find a way to bring meaningful change. Meaningful change calls for unity, and unity takes work.
Whether you serve as a teacher in our community, elected official, health care professional, small business owner or union worker, I encourage you to consider how you can help our community unify in your everyday work. As we listen to the call for equal justice, both in our community and in our nation, I encourage you to think of your neighbors as yourself. We must love our neighbors, and we must treat each other as we ourselves want to be treated.
I am encouraged by the new generation of leaders who have joined together to exercise their first amendment right to peacefully protest, and I am extremely proud of the changes we have seen in the City of Fayetteville’s policing and operations. I challenge those who are protesting, help us build the community we all desire, one that works for all of us, not just a few.
While our city has certainly had its problems with racial and social bias, to include aggressive policing in predominately Black communities, we have come a long way over the last 8 years. The city began revamping its policing policies after the rebuke of the DOJ, in 2012/2013. Because of this, many of the changes made were proactive and allowed us to get a head start on the necessary changes long before many of these national tragedies we see today.
Over the last year, our city council has taken an internal and external review to ensure diversity inclusion in our hiring practices, economic policies and the systemic policies used to serve our community.
•We have established the Fayetteville Citizens Advisory Board to assist in building better relationships with law enforcement and the communities they serve. We passed the 4th resolution requesting of the North Carolina General Assembly to allow for the establishment of a Police Review/Oversight Board.
•In addition to increased training we have implemented body cameras, and impressed upon the city manager to enforce a zero tolerance policy for racial discrimination or racial motivated policing throughout our city.
•We have also established a local and minority participation policy for the entire city’s contracting and spending. We have invested and/or committed to investing over $15 Million dollars into underserved communities, such as Murchison Road, B Street, Campbell Avenue and others.
•We have invested $100,000 in restoring and the revitalization of Orange Street School (Original location of the city’s Historically Black High School) and requesting $1M from the state of NC.
•We have invested nearly $400,000 in restoration of the E. E. Smith House, home of the first President of Fayetteville State, our local HBCU.
•We have increased our support for community development programs such as increased home ownership and working to strategically address the city’s Tier 1 status.
•We have engaged the Department of Justice to implement the City Spirit Program to improve race relations.
While we have come a long way as a nation, 2020 and 2021 have reminded us all that we must continue to work together to bridge the racial divide in America. I am grateful to God that we are a community willing to accept and address our shortcomings, and we are a community willing to unify.
Because of this, I stand confident that Fayetteville, North Carolina, will continue to advance as an All American City, by name and by deed.