Wilmington mayor and religious leaders rebuke ‘Murder Town’ show

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Faith-based leaders and elected officials are standing together to oppose the ABC television pilot “Murder Town” and have reached out to the production company.

“This Wilmington, Delaware is not Murder Town, USA,” said Tyrone Johnson who leads the group Churches Take Every Corner.

Johnson was joined by Mayor Dennis P. Williams, New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon, City Council President Theo Gregory, New Castle County President Chris Bullock and State Representative Charles Potter to stand against the negative tag first introduced by a Newsweek article last year.

Members of Wilmington City Council sent a letter today to television executives at the A+E and ABC television networks asking them to reconsider their reported decision to produce and air a program entitled “Murder Town” that could possibly be filmed in the city.

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According to Council President Gregory a council representative plans to travel to New York City if necessary to meet with the executives to discuss the concerns about the planned TV show.

“I agree wholeheartedly with the letter sent by Wilmington City Council to ABC Television and A+E Networks asking them to reconsider their ‘reported decision’ to use Wilmington as the setting for the new show,” Gordon said.

The letter from Wilmington City Council states, in part, “Cities with larger physical footprints, such as Baltimore with ‘The Wire’ and New York with ‘Law and Order’ are able to withstand a national presentation that directly associates these cities with negative behaviors and actions. Wilmington is a smaller city with no room for error on the reputation scale – either real or perceived.”

Gordon who was born and raised in Wilmington also added, “It’s because of the small numbers in Wilmington that they are saying it’s the murder capital. Twenty-five to 28 murders a year is horrible but that’s a weekend in Chicago.”

Gordon said the number of shootings hasn’t changed in nearly a decade because of the struggling workforce.

“Everything has been stripped out, you can’t get a job. There is 17-hundred to 18-hundred empty homes and the foreclosure rate is getting worse. Try to find a job if you live in Wilmington,” Gordon said.

However, Gordon is confident that the Port of Wilmington expansion proposal, the building of the Wilmington Stock Exchange, and other important, economic development initiatives are all things that will help revitalize the city, put people to work and help reduce crime.

“We have some problems here. We’ve got problems with how we deploy our police and we got some additional problems that we got to fix,” Potter said but vows that the state is prepared to do more to help the city.

“This city has had more studies then it needs, every study has said the same thing, it is now time to take those studies and those recommendations, and put aside political partisanship, and put aside our personal preference and make the changes, we know what we need to do,” Patricia Downing of Trinity Episcopal Church added.

Meanwhile, Mayor Williams encouraged community leaders present to work together to address issues plaguing specific areas of the community.

“As this problem was not created overnight, there are also no quick fixes. We must all be committed and persistent to finding solutions that build safe and strong neighborhoods throughout the entire city,” Williams said.

Although the pilot program has drawn immediate negative reaction, could there be a possibility that it financially helps the local economy? Williams admitted earlier this week that could be possible since ABC crew members would be inclined to spend money on City restaurants and hotels.

Whatever the case, Williams said he was humbled by community members willing to unite for a greater cause.

“To see all these folks being united and all political ideologies pushed back and off the table, I think we are going to get something done, Williams said. We worked so hard to get this city turned around but we need everyone in this room.”

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