In Violence-busting Mode, Baraka Reaches out to L.A., which Reaches Back to Newark

“L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is ‘lay back’
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin’ about
Making my way back
Well I’m New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home
But it ain’t mine no more…”

So sang Neil Diamond in “I am, I said,” a self-penned composition with an infamously incoherent chorus, which didn’t bother identifying Newark, never mind whether or not it made any sense.


But if Brick City and Tinseltown seem like absolutely unlikely partners, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti waded through the more obvious mythological and regional dislocations to find a common theme: violent crime and what to do about it.

The bicoastal progressive mayors joined national community safety experts in a virtual press conference this afternoon to launch the first-ever national association of community-based violence prevention programs to improve public safety in cities.

“Newark has strategically invested in complimentary community-based public safety and public health responses to support police in reducing violence and crime, and our city is the safest it’s been in decades,” said Baraka. “In June 2020, the City made an unprecedented decision to move five percent of the city’s public safety budget into a new Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery to provide additional support for community-based public safety solutions like the Newark Community Street Team, Newark Street Academy and the West Ward Victims Outreach Initiative that prevent and reduce violence by treating it as a public health issue.”

“I challenge every mayor in every city to join us,” said Garcetti, appearing on the Zoom call with his partner in anti-crime, Baraka.

The Community Based Public Safety Association (CBPSA) will be comprised of key leaders and organizations representing major U.S. cities, connecting efforts from across the country to help advance pathways to safety that complement policing and reforms to the criminal justice system at a national scale. CBPSA will work to secure increased support to fund and build the capacity of public health-based violence prevention programs, which are essential to achieving and reimagining safety, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. CBPSA will also release a national study – Redefining Public Safety in America: A National Scan of Community Based Public Safety Initiatives – that details the various programs, how they work to reduce violence, and what is needed to bring them to scale. Among their conclusions are that despite urban violence created by the COVID-19 pandemic, community-based violence reduction programs continue to improve public safety.

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