CLEVELAND -- "Violence and gang-banging, etc. takes place in poor communities where there are boarded up houses."
Strong words from a powerful democratic leader.
U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the longest-serving black woman in the house of representatives, is in Cleveland this weekend. She delivered the keynote address at the Solutions Forum on Violence at John Adams High School.
The event was hosted by former Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed.
Reed said, "Understand that when we talk about making this city safer, we're not talking about some far off dream or something that's unattainable."
Now in her 14th term as a member of Congress, the 78-year-old fought for legislation promoting aid to poor and minority neighborhoods in American cities.
Waters, who represents the 43rd district of Southern California, says community leaders in Cleveland and throughout the country need to fight violence head on. She says there needs to be less talking and more acting.
"People are talking about violence, and so much violence that's going on all over the country. It's not just in some of the schools like in Parkland, in our communities, we’ve been dealing with this for quite some time now,” said Waters.
Speaking before a large crowd, Waters suggested community leaders physically put themselves in communities that need guidance the most.
The Congresswoman has recently seen a surge in popularity with the millennial population, gaining the nickname, “Auntie Maxine.”
"Well, what they tell me is that they've never heard a politician speak the way that I speak. And they see me as authentic," said Waters.
As for her visit to Cleveland, she says it will not be her last.
"I'm in this fight and this struggle to stay."
As for her ties to Cleveland, the Congresswoman is married to former Cleveland Browns linebacker Sid Williams, part of the 1964 championship team.