A politician in Tennessee issued an apology after she compared youth violence in Nashville to Beirut during a public city council meeting.
Nashville councilwoman Erica Gilmore said her comments were meant to address issues of youth violence in the Tennessee capital.
“My comment was not meant to disparage Lebanon or to imply any negativity regarding the wonderful people of Lebanon,” Gilmore said in a statement. “I have always held Lebanon and its citizens in high regard and even lived there during my study at the American University of Beirut.”
During a televised meeting, the councilwoman said youth poverty and violence has become a crisis, and the issues compare to the challenges facing an underdeveloped nation.
“People do not recognize there are kids out there that are in such poverty that we are like a third world country,” she said during the meeting. “I feel like I was in Beirut.”
Gilmore responded to Lebanese Examiner’s story three days later with a statement posted to Facebook.
“I hope this situation can be turned into a positive for both cities of Nashville and Beirut. Both cities are beautiful and have great people that live there.” Gilmore added. “However, we can always do more to improve the lives and safety of our great cities.”
According to her online biography, Gilmore completed a study-abroad program at the American University of Beirut while studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C.\
READ FULL STATEMENT HERE:
Recently, I made a comment comparing the prevalence of violent crime in my hometown of Nashville to similar situations in Beirut Lebanon. My comments were based on U.S. State Department travel advisories to Lebanon and news reports regarding increasing violent crime rates in Beirut. My intention was only to create attention regarding issues of violence to my hometown so that we could begin to more proactively address this serious matter. My comment was not meant to disparage Lebanon or to imply any negativity regarding the wonderful people of Lebanon. I am sorry that some have mistakenly believed that my comment was intended to disparage Lebanon. I have always held Lebanon and its citizens in high regard and even lived there during my study at the American University of Beirut. I had a wonderful experience and was treated with kindness and respect by the Lebanese people. I will forever cherish my time in Beirut and the people that were so generous to me.
I hope that this situation can be turned into a positive for both cities of Nashville and Beirut. Both cities are beautiful and have great people that live there. However, we can always do more to improve the lives and safety of our great cities. I wish the people of Beirut all the best in their efforts to elevate the lives of its fine citizens, and I will continue every day trying to elevate the lives of Nashvillians the best that I can. May God bless our two great cities and our people.