IPS hosts Zoom town hall with Mayor Ed Gainey

This past Friday, Mayor Ed Gainey joined the Institute of Politics and Strategy for a town hall, where over 150 members of the community joined over Zoom. He discussed his first 100 days in office, including the crises and challenges his administration faced going into his term.

Gainey assumed office on Jan. 3, and within his first month in office, Pittsburgh was hit with a couple of the city’s first snow storms and the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse. Soon after, a high school student was shot and killed outside Oliver Citywide Academy, prompting Gainey to visit the local schools and talk to students as a first step towards making schools safer and addressing the spike in violence.

“And some people might not have seen this as a big step but trust me, it was. Because some of these kids thought that death was okay. There’s this spike of violence in the city and in the country, and I wanted these kids to know that there’s quality in their life. That there’s value in them. And that you always have to work to try and be the best version of you. And know that somebody cares about you,” Mayor Gainey said.

The issue of gun violence was brought up by multiple people later on during the town hall as they called for him to address what the city is doing to address gun violence after the tragic mass shooting in the Northside that left eight injured and two dead on Easter Sunday. The shooting happened at a party being held at an AirBnB, and two 17-year-olds from Pittsburgh Public Schools were killed. The question posed to Mayor Gainey during the town hall asked about ways that the city is working toward long term solutions for gun violence.

Gainey said closing cases was number best short term solution for city safety, and that he was in contact with local law enforcement about aspects of the case that he could not disclose. To address long term solutions, Gainey spoke about the culture of violence enveloping American youth, citing social media, music, and video games.

In that same vein, he addressed concerns about over-policing and issues with the prison system. He talked about community-oriented policing, and how it works only with the right mindset: He talked about his own experiences with inequity in policing across the city: “I witnessed it myself,” Gainey said. He talked about how the police would check up on his grandmother when he lived with her in Oakland as a kid, but when they moved to East Liberty, there was no one checking up on them. In Gainey’s words, community-oriented policing only works when, “it’s not about ‘What door am I knocking on?’ but rather ‘What door am I knocking on to serve and protect?’”

“We can talk about the first hundred days you know because we got a story to tell. But the reality is that the first hundred days don’t define us,” Gainey said. “It doesn’t matter what we did yesterday or the day before or the first hundred days. It only matters what we accomplish going forward and how we build a city for all.”