Politico Magazine’s fourth national Mayors Survey (which had 73 participants) found that: mayors of varying constituencies and political stripes agreed on one key priority: diversity training and outreach, with a focus on tolerance and inclusion. Sixty-two percent of mayors said their police forces had a program to engage the Muslim community, and over a quarter of respondents cited “community relations and distrust of law enforcement” as a key challenge to counter-terrorism efforts.
“It’s prudent for us to establish real and sustainable relationships with immigrant and Muslim communities,” wrote Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “It is equally important to address those that are marginalized and secluded of all groups, particularly youth, to stabilize communities and lower the opportunities for recruitment and propaganda.”
Wrote one mayor anonymously: “Communities are still very much segregated. And public education needs to be intentional about teaching respect in a diverse society.” One mayor cited as a key accomplishment “strengthening our relationships with the many ethnic groups who live [here]. 1 of 4 residents were not born in the US and 1 of 3 are a person of color.”
National politicians, the mayors charged, are harming counter-terrorism efforts through anti-Muslim rhetoric. “Islamophobia is a huge threat to the well-being of my constituents,” wrote a mayor of a major Midwest city. “The president gets that, congress doesn’t.” Added another: “Some candidates for President and Congressional leaders don’t understand that good relations, tolerant policies, and community outreach is critical to getting tips and leads on terrorist activity and keeping our cities safe.”
Asked which presidential contender would be the worst for security, 51 percent named a certain billionaire real estate mogul.
“Donald Trump will be the worst,” wrote Mayor Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, Washington, population 203,000. “Peddling hate, fear and xenophobia will not make us more safe.”
“Trump would be a disaster,” concurred Mary Salas, of Chula Vista, California, whose city has a population of about a quarter of a million.“He’d create terrible foreign relations — a dangerous climate.”
Still, some mayors took a contrarian view on where the real terrorist threat is emanating from.
“Austin’s experience with terrorism, whether it’s someone flying his plane into the IRS building or shooting at the police station and the Mexican Consulate, has been exclusively domestic in origin,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Said Kitty Piercy, of Eugene, Oregon: “I think having a national wildlife refuge taken over by out of state militia is pretty frightening. We may need to think of American terrorism in whole new ways.” [Continue reading…]