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'Change Is Needed' Say Attendees Of Evanston Meeting On Recent Gun Violence

The Cincinnati Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) held a meeting Monday night in Evanston for the community to speak on how to tackle the gun violence issue within the city. The SCLC chapter is calling the recent gun violence in Cincinnati an "epidemic within a pandemic."

Citizens from the neighborhood and beyond spoke on the impact gun violence has had on their lives, many having lost loved ones over the years in Cincinnati, including their own children. Pastor Peterson Mingo lived through the death of multiple brothers in his youth.

"As I look around, I see people who have every reason in the world to be concerned and basically want to see some things done to ensure that our children, Amen, don't just end up on billboards as a number and a picture," Mingo said.

Boxing trainer Dione Walker says Black youth need to see the value in themselves to combat gun violence and discussed from his perspective how Black people and white people handle disagreements.

"I see my white counterparts, they arguing, that's the first thing they do, they want to talk about it," Walker said. "But over here, what we doing? First thing we do is guess what? 'You're going to talk to me like that?' Somebody got to get a gun. You got to get a baseball bat. You got to get a knife. You got to do something. When we see the value in us loving each other, as a community, things are going to change."

Bishop Stephen Scott closed out the discussions with what he believes needs to be done within Cincinnati to curb the gun violence. Seventeen years ago, his son was killed in Winton Terrace when he was hit with six shots from an AK-47.

"Every time I hear about a shooting, it's like a flashback," Scott said.

Scott says community meetings like the one on Monday evening could do a lot to fight the issue. He also pointed at a lack of investment from the city into poorer communities. He says money is going to bars and restaurants Downtown, but not youth programs.

"Gun violence is a result of poverty and desperation, plain and simple," Scott said. "Cut it any way you want to, that's the result of poverty."

He says fighting the issue will take holistic community involvement, but a plan needs to be in place for change to happen, as well as effort put in by the community.

"Are we still going to continue to just talk with no action or are we going to come together and demand some change? Change is needed, change is wanted, and change must become the order of the day," Scott said.

By June of this year, there were 183 shootings in Cincinnati. Across the country, more than 180 people were killed in shootings during the weekend of July 4. In Cincinnati, a shooting at Smale Riverfront Park left two teenagers dead and three others wounded. Chief Eliot Isaac said 16-year-old Milo Watson and 19-year-old Dexter Wright, Jr. had an ongoing argument and ended it by shooting and killing one another. Isaac says the guns were not recovered, but investigators were not immediately looking for any other suspects.

Two days later, Mayor John Cranley said the community needs to step up to respond to the recent increase in gun violence. He said the police department will increase patrols as much as possible, but the department is down nearly a hundred officers

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.