Andrade: Crime Result of City Leaders ‘Failing’ Youth
Community activist John "Buddy" Andrade says New Bedford as a community is failing the youth.
"These kids want things to do. They're not bad," Andrade said. "I've seen these young boys and girls, all colors and all shapes and residents of this city, and the adults in government and the adults in the community are failing them."
In an interview with WBSM's Brian Thomas, Andrade railed against the escalating violence in New Bedford, which saw the murder of 18-year-old Brad Lourenco this past Monday and tensions increase between west end and south end gangs in the city. The recent stretch of violence has been particularly disturbing, as it has involved mostly young adults and teenagers.
Andrade said the problem starts at the top with Mayor Jon Mitchell.
"The mayor is not leading," he said. "He's just sitting there doing sound bites on the reports he's getting from the police department or somebody else, or whatever he reads in the newspaper. That's what's happening. He's not engaged in what's happening."
Andrade called on the mayor and city council to release more funds to help with afterschool and outreach programs. He said the only councillor that he has a relationship with when it comes to the issue of violence is Naomi Carney, and that "everyone else is absent."
"The city council is MIA with what's going on in the community," he said. "They don't return calls, they're not really active in the community, and then they want to get up there and grandstand. But they're not really focused on what we're talking about in the community."
This year, a number of positions are available in the upcoming city elections, including the mayor's office and multiple city council seats.
"There has to be some changes with people who really care about the people in New Bedford," Andrade said. "That's the problem. These kids feel like they're left out. Their community has left them, their school has left them, their parents have left them, and also, their local government has left them."
"The police are doing a fantastic job on this, they're getting these individuals, however we're not doing the prevention stuff, and that means more programs for these kids, jobs, more activities, things of that nature," he said.
Andrade said former mayors Fred Kalisz and Scott Lang "were in the trenches with us."
"There's a difference when you have leadership, and you're able to quell the stuff down before it gets started," he said.
Andrade said that while Mayor Mitchell has done a good job of bringing business back into New Bedford, he's not focusing enough on the people.
"These are our kids," he said. "You can invest in bricks and mortar downtown, but you can't invest in our kids?"