On September 29th 2015, the Strong Cities Network was officially launched, with the endorsement of the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. The network plan aims to build a cohesive relationship between a variety of partners, in a supposed effort to combat and work against violent extremism. “Cities are vital partners in the international efforts to build social cohesion and resilience to violent extremism,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the U.S.
A number of local communities are looking to work together under this new network program, to potentially pool resources, and “build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale.” The network is going to conduct a variety of workshops and training exercises. There will also be a number of different grants being offered, innovative initiatives, and more. The U.S. State Department has already planned to allocate funds for the project through until at least next year. At that point, charities are expected to take over the funding of the network.
The network collective is comprised of 23 cities, including: New York, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Montreal, and others. The “strong cities” involved in the network are encouraged to communicate and share information with one another about any “suspicious activity.” New York Mayor De Blasio has said that the network will be a message to all of the families who have lost loved ones because of extremism. “[It says that] something is being done in a new and powerful way,” according to de Blasio.
The network isn't going to be focusing on any one form of extremism either, but they will be looking at a variety of forms: religious, racial, nationalistic, and ideological intolerance. So far at least 20 different groups have sent the mayor a letter in just New York alone, asking for more information about the network's plans. The groups, which are comprised of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Association of Muslim American Lawyers, the Justice League, and others, say that these types of programs can end-up having a negative impact by alienating members in the community. They also say that currently there isn't any proof, that efforts to combat violent extremism at the level of social workers and school teachers, have ever been successful.
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