NAACP issues open letter to end violent crime in Chattanooga
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- As the new administration takes office, members of the local NAACP are calling for an end to the violence in Chattanooga. They are asking the community, schools, even the media, to take part.
The Chattanooga Hamilton-County NAACP chapter has a new president this year. James Mapp is a familiar face. He is a past president and has been involved with the organization for the past 26 years. He was at the forefront of de-segregating the schools in Hamilton County.
"We felt that it was our responsibility to ask to cease some of the killings and end some of the violence," says James Mapp.
NAACP president James Mapp issued an open letter, making "a broad call to the African American community to cease the killing" and that what is labeled as "black on black crime" is too prevalent.
He says there is a lack of direction for younger generations.
"I think they're a little frustrated because what we pretend is not what we do," says Mapp.
He points to the Alton Park neighborhood as an example, with the closing of what used to be Franklin Middle School. In his letter he condemns the Hamilton County School system for its "neglect of inner city schools" and its lack of vocational training, which he says creates a ripple effect.
"They need jobs. They need jobs," says Mapp.
He is working with the Alton Park Community Development. It is collecting signatures, asking for a new school to be built there.
"Hopefully people will start to think outside the box and maybe give this community a second look," says Dwan Austin.
Austin grew up in Alton Park. She now works out of the old Franklin Middle School, which is privately owned.
"I'm a product of this community. I want to see it thrive. I want to see it do well. It's not just about me. I've moved away and come back. You just want to see it thrive," says Austin.
She says with a little time and hard work, communities like Alton Park can turn around.
"Don't be fearful of what you see in the news because, I'm here everyday, I've not seen any problems. It's just a good community to be in," she says.
"I'd certainly hope that the new administration would take note of these kind of things," says Mapp.
In his letter Mapp also addresses the media, asking for toned down coverage of all the shootings, saying it glorifies the acts.
We reached out to the school board for reaction to Mapp's concerns, but have not heard back. Mapp says he hopes to sit down with Mayor Berke in the coming weeks.