CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was unrepentant on a Charlotte radio show Friday about comments he made last week on African-American youths.
McCrory, speaking by phone on the Jaye Delai show on WQNC, said he was open to dialogue about a memo he wrote July 5 congratulating police on arrests the night before during Fourth of July festivities in uptown.
In the memo, McCrory wrote that "too many of our youth, primarily African-American, are imitating and/or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action." The comments stirred criticism in the black community, including a request for an apology from Ken White, president of the Charlotte branch of the NAACP. McCrory has declined to issue an apology.
On Friday's midday show, the mayor told Delai his comments were not different than what black leaders have said in the past in Charlotte. "We need to deal with these issues head on," said McCrory, who noted that his administration has developed mentoring and jobs programs for disadvantaged youths.
The mayor was joined on the air by White and City Council member Anthony Foxx, who said McCrory's memo did little toward creating dialogue or change.
"I think part of the problem over the last week is that these issues are extremely sensitive and they're extremely charged," Foxx said. " However you feel about them, I feel like they deserve more than a 5 o'clock memorandum off the 15th floor."
Said McCrory: "I've done much more than a memo."
Callers were both critical and supportive. "If you're going to keep knocking these kids," said one, "then that's how these kids are going to feel."
Another caller, who identified herself as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher, said the mayor's memo was accurate: "He was making a statement about the children who were down at the Fourth of July event."
After the show, McCrory said: "I didn't change my tune. I also hope we start talking solutions as opposed to style of communication."
Host Delai, who along with Foxx and White didn't return calls for comment, was complimentary on the air about McCrory's appearance - "As a man, I appreciate you coming on here," he said - but he also asked the mayor to be more a part of answers for the black community.
To that end, Delai implored the McCrory administration on-air to match $25,000 raised for Emerging Leaders Institute, a West Charlotte High School program in which the host is involved. He also asked for a monthly meeting with McCrory - "20 to 30 minutes of your time."
McCrory invited Delai to submit a funding proposal on behalf of Emerging Leaders Institute. "Every budget session, we welcome groups that want to lift this city up," the mayor said.
As for the monthly meeting - yes, said McCrory.
"The more I hear, the more I learn," he said.
But: "I'm not going to be hesitant to give my opinion, either."