President Barack Obama wasted no time Tuesday in calling on Kansas City Mayor Sly James during a White House discussion with big-city mayors about youth violence.
“We’ll start with you, Sly,” is how the president started the meeting, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
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The conversation also featured 17 other mayors and Attorney General Eric Holder.
“I was honored to be a part of this initial exchange of ideas,” said James, whose prepared remarks attributed Kansas City’s youth violence problem to poverty, lack of educational attainment and access to guns.
The mayor talked about how half of Kansas City’s homicides can be traced to a 13-square-mile segment of the 319-square-mile city. He said that for too many teenage boys living in that part of town, everyone in their world has a gun.
In a news release from the White House, Obama pledged to do everything in his power to combat gun violence and to press Congress to pass common-sense reforms.
James said he is looking forward to future conversations and learning about successful programs that combat the problem.
Other cities represented included St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Memphis.