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Birmingham Council President: City’s Conflict Resolution Programs Not Working

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Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander

By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

After recent domestic and gun violence deaths in Birmingham, City Council President Wardine Alexander told Mayor Randall Woodfin that city’s conflict resolution efforts “just are not working.”

Alexander asked the mayor during Tuesday’s City Council meeting to provide updates about the city’s anti-violence efforts at an upcoming committee meeting.

“Obviously, conflict resolution is just not working when it comes to people when they have differences or when they have to resolve differences and it can lead to just horrible results,” said Alexander.

The mayor responded that many of the recent deaths could not have prevented with public programs.

Speaking to the council, the mayor said, “the public deserves the truth and for the last 30 days, I’ve been going over and over in my brain some of the stuff we’ve been seeing…If I can be blunt, with all the programs we have, I’m not sure if what I’m about to describe, [those programs] can solve for any of that,” the mayor said.

Woodfin highlighted three homicides, all presumed to be domestic in nature, that have occurred over the last month, a June 17 incident in which a son reportedly shot and killed his father; a June 30 incident in which a boyfriend reportedly shot and killed his girlfriend and a July 8 incident in which a mother and father died in a possible murder-suicide.

“I’m not sure if any program, any public dollar, could have prevented any of those situations,” Woodfin said.

However, Woodfin said he still believes in a number of public safety programs the city has initiated or helped fund across Birmingham.

That list includes a variety of youth services such as conflict resolution curriculum and mental health services at Birmingham City Schools, as well as a “safe haven” program at city recreation centers and a hospital-linked violence intervention program.

These “heat of the moment situations,” where gun violence occurs in homes, front yards and cars don’t benefit from public programs, the mayor said. It could take some time before the outcomes of those anti-violence programs are clear, he added.

“There’s still a lot of data to collect, and I think a lot of these programs, long-term, will work, particularly for the next generation, related to conflict resolution,” Woodfin said.

Woodfin also addressed two recent killings of juveniles, both of which are presumed to be accidental, according to AL.com.

On June 30, 3-year-old Kayden Goldman was in a room alone with a gun and accidentally shot and killed himself, and on July 6, a 4-year-old girl was shot, presumably by accident, through an apartment window. She is currently on life support.

Woodfin said he could not “imagine the pain these two families are feeling right now” but stressed that everyone one in a household should take care to ensure that children do not have access to the weapons.

“Leaving guns visible, leaving guns on the couch, in the crevice of a couch, on the table, children are curious, and unfortunately if they are not secure, a child could be hurt, or worse killed,” Woodfin said.

Updated at 9:59 a.m. at 7/12/2023 to delete word from title.