BLACK ON BLACK CRIME PREVENTION MONTH
Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, 1 year ago this month, a powerful new force joined together and it has since swept through the neighborhoods in Arkansas. Its members said enough to the homicides plaguing our streets, enough to the violence in our schools and homes and enough to standing by to watch our communities crumble.
Members of the community saw that although African Americans comprised 12 percent of the national population, a staggering 45 percent of all murder victims in 2002 were black. A resounding 91 percent of those murders were incidents of black on black crime.
Homicide was and is still literally tearing apart African-American families, serving as the leading cause of death for black men ages 15 to 24, and the second leading cause of death for black women of the same age group. Black-on-black crime remains an epidemic, having a devastating impact on our families and ultimately compromising the safety and quality of life in my great State of Arkansas.
One year ago this month, community leaders, faith leaders, government officials, community organizations, and businesses did more than just say enough is enough. They formed the Black on Black Crime Coalition to inform and educate the citizens of Little Rock about black-on-black crime, but also to implement programs and initiatives to reduce homicides, reduce violent crimes and take back their streets and neighborhoods.
I am proud to be a partner of this coalition, to join with coalition members and its wide array of partners and raise public awareness about black-on-black crime. The coalition has spent its first year creating and supporting intervention and mentoring programs, conducting workshops for community organizations, supporting neighborhood associations, implementing youth programs and lobbying elected officials to implement policies for effective change. The coalition is working through the statistics, trying to understand the systemic causes, determining the solutions and reversing this epidemic that is stealing away our future leaders.
This January, in Arkansas, we celebrate Black on Black Crime Prevention Month. The coalition has organized a month filled with ceremonies, roundtable discussions, town meetings, and prayer to help meet its mission. By all means, these efforts are contributing to a better understanding of the challenges that Arkansas' black communities face each and every day, but we are also learning and implementing strategies to beat back and overcome these challenges.
As the former attorney general of my State, I have worked closely with law enforcement officers and the community to make Arkansas a safer place to live and raise a family. As a Senator, I have continued to fight for legislation, programs, technology and budgets to accomplish this goal. And I pledge to continue this commitment.
It is a tremendous responsibility that the Black on Black Crime Coalition has accepted. I commend the members of this coalition for their dedication and teamwork, and congratulate them for several meaningful and successful events during this year's Black on Black Crime Prevention Month and for their unyielding efforts throughout the year.