Cleveland against violence – that is the message sent out by civic leaders and local community organizers. City leaders also urge for unity in ending senseless crime and violent attacks. This call comes at a moment grief, after a five-month-old baby girl was killed in a drive-by shooting on Friday.
The death of baby Aavielle constitutes the third case from the last four weeks of a child brutally shot and killed. Some have said Aavielle is the youngest ever victim of gun violence.
At a press conference following the tragedy, a shaken Police Chief Calvin Williams broke in tears when learning about the tragic case of the five-month-old baby. “It’s been hard to stomach,” he said. Chief Williams also added that a civilized society should not have to worry about innocent babies being killed in meaningless gang disputes. He further stated that the time for action is now:
“We’ve marched enough. People need to stop chanting and do something.”
Church leaders, politicians, public figures and even DJs have all voiced concern about the alarming levels of violence in the city of Cleveland. On the WZAK radio station, DJ Hazmatt played fewer songs, choosing instead to address the serious issue and ever-growing concern about street violence and crime. The DJ also called for unity and more action from reformed criminals to guide and mentor those engaged in violent activities.
“We look to the police, but the police can only react to what happens. […] We need people that have been involved in these types of activities before but are reformed and want to go into these communities and talk to these young men.”
Mayor Frank Jackson is also attending public events to speak on the matter, in an attempt to curb the level of violence plaguing the city. Jackson said that this issue transcends race, ethnic groups and class divides – it affects everyone in the city equally and must be treated as a universal, human problem.
During this time, civic groups, such as the Cleveland Peacemaker Alliance, are enlisting mentors, some with previous gang experience, to behave as guides and character models for youth going down the path of crime and street violence. The Peacemaker Alliance agrees with Mayor Jackson’s stance on the matter that the first step in creating a less violent society is education and individual transformation.
Through mentoring, understanding and guidance, activists and community leaders hope to slowly forge the path to a better future for Cleveland.
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