SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Thursday's Savannah City Council meeting began with a larger-than-usual crowd. Many wanted the council to address the deadly violence recently plaguing downtown.
Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach and council gave the crowd a chance to speak on the issue and the loss of life, but not before the mayor said a few words.
The mayor echoed a few of the sentiments shared at Wednesday's news conference at police headquarters and went into detail about measures the city is taking to stop the deadly violence.
In front of a packed room, Mayor DeLoach reiterated that council remains committed to a long-term plan in combating crime with police leaders and pointed at a recent overall six-percent drop in violent crime so far this year.
While mourning the loss is necessary, the mayor says they need to stay focused on long-term solutions.
"Make no mistake; we are at war with gangs in our community. We are at war with those that want to disrupt any law-abiding citizen and wreak havoc on our beloved city. But we cannot flinch, we cannot become reactionary, we cannot change policy based on emotions, and we must stay with our strategic plan," Mayor DeLoach said. As we continue to mourn all the lives lost this year in Savannah and pray for all those affected by violent crime, we must work together to find positive solutions to these complex issues."
[Read the mayor's entire statement below:]
At Thursday's council meeting, dozens poured into council chambers to show solidarity and support for the memory of Scott Waldrup.
Waldrup was an innocent victim of crime early Wednesday morning, hit and killed by a car police were chasing. There were about a half-dozen speakers that made their way up to the podium to speak in front of council Thursday.
An end to the violence that took Waldrup's life, a call to action and reaching the community at deeper levels to combat crime were some of the common themes Thursday from the speakers, which included pastors, neighborhood leaders, and business owners.
The first speaker at City Council was one I spoke to Wednesday night about Waldrup and his last heroic actions to save lives. Bob Milie suggested that council ramp up efforts to protect members of the service industry downtown, forming a service industry task force and investing more into the police department's resource pool.
"Today is not a day to cast stones, throw shade, or grab the pitchforks. While we understand and appreciate anger as a part of grief, and embrace grief, while we demand growth," Milie said. "Scott's legacy will be of love and action. Love of others, and actions to protect. Join us by taking these and other actions, and his name will create a legacy."
WTOC did confirm with one of the founders of "The Grey" restaurant that there will be a Celebration of Life for Scott Waldrup Friday at noon at Pulaski Square.