This week marks the one-year memorial of the shooting at the Fifth Third Center in downtown Cincinnati.
After the events on Sept. 6, 2018, #CincyStrong became a trending topic locally and a rallying force for the city to get behind. Though Cincinnati has not experienced a mass shooting since (defined by the FBI as four or more murdered during an event), gun violence continues in the city. In urban communities like the West End, the conversation around it continues.
Cincinnati Police Officer Princess Davis says the urge for change outside of inner-city communities isn’t as strong. " 'Cincy Strong' - I mean it sounds good, but have we really come to that place? I don't think so," she says. Davis says if the entire city gave its time to communities that need it, the city would be having a different conversation about gun violence a year after the Fifth Third shooting.
One thing that persists is the impact of trauma, which is the aftermath of a disturbing life experience.
Eighteen-year-old Carmen (whose real name WVXU isn't using in order to protect her privacy) describes her close friend being killed by a gun as "breathtaking" and "scary." She says it causes her to be paranoid sometimes.
Psychologist Calisha Brooks says people that don't have access to healthy coping resources can start to internalize past negative experiences. "You may go into that 'fight or flight' really quickly with your body feeling overly aroused all the time," Brooks says. "You're always on alert. So that can also start to break down your immunity and affect your overall health."
Cincinnati Police Department data shows there have been 240 shootings so far this year, compared to 224 total shootings at this time last year. The West End (21), Over-the-Rhine (21) and Avondale (20) have had the highest number of shootings.
Neighborhood crime rates are linked to poverty, segregation and inequality. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development's evidence says job access, residential instability and evictions are a few contributors that cause and are results of violent crime.
Carmen says her grandmother is the person she turns to to talk about her difficult emotions. She says the pain of losing someone is with her daily.
For her, leaving Cincinnati is a must.
"I want to be able to go to college. To be able to live to go to college," she says. "To be able to live to be an entrepreneur or a leader for my brothers and sisters."