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Reed: Attacks on Montgomery are about controlling money, not stopping crime

During an interview with Alabama Politics This Week, Reed talked candidly about the city’s crime issues — both real and sensationalized.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed
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Violent crime is down significantly all over America, according to FBI statistics, and that includes in the city of Montgomery. 

That likely comes as quite a surprise to those who have encapsulated themselves in a rightwing media bubble, where shootings are rampant, murders are common and everyone should be scared to death all the time. It’s a fairly classic case of some agenda-driven media seizing upon a rather common problem – the fairly consistent, even if declining, level of crime in American cities – and highlighting it to the point that common viewers believe that the problem is much larger than it actually is. 

During an interview on the Alabama Politics This Week Podcast that is available Friday, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed talked about the frustrations of attempting to deal with the very real problem of crime, particularly among the most at-risk groups in Montgomery, while also battling against the characterization that crime is “out of control” in his city. 

“It’s just factually inaccurate to say some of the things that are being said,” Reed said. “A couple of weeks ago, there was a top of the page article in the New York Times about, although violence is down, public safety remains an election issue. And it went into detail about social media and how information is carried versus the way it used to be – how people are responding to what’s happening in and around their cities. And they also talked about the politics of violent crime and the partisanship in terms of the messaging behind it. 

“It’s a lot tougher to get your message through. It’s a lot harder when you present facts, you know, than those who say, well, we don’t believe those facts, because it doesn’t fit my narrative, right? So it is a challenge.”

Not surprisingly, rightwing politicians around Alabama have taken advantage of the Montgomery crime narrative. This week, two Pike Road politicians introduced a bill that would allow the governor or attorney general to appoint an interim police chief for any city in which crime exceeded a certain, arbitrary level. The bill’s sponsors made it clear that it was directed at Montgomery, although they never addressed the fact that Montgomery doesn’t rank in the top five in Alabama for crime and doesn’t rank in the top 20 for violent crime. 

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Addressing that bill and the motivation behind it, Reed did not mince words. The goal has little, if anything, to do with public safety and far more to do with who controls the money that flows into and out of America’s largest cities. 

“I serve on the board of trustees of the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is the largest organization of mayors collectively in the nation, and we are seeing more preemption (legislation) from state legislatures all throughout this country,” Reed said. “We’re seeing this as a tactic. (These bills) are usually from conservative led legislatures and target democratically led cities. So this is a strategy. This is something that is intentional and deliberate to change who controls what. And I want your listeners to understand, I don’t want your listeners to miss this point. It’s not just about public safety. It’s often about who is controlling the money and who gets the benefits of that.” 

You can listen to Reed’s interview and the entire podcast by clicking the link at the top of the story or by subscribing to the Alabama Politics This Week Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. Visit the Alabama Politics This Week Podcast website for more information and previous episodes.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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