DETROIT (WWJ) – The violent weekend in the city has community leaders and activists ready to fight back.
Following a 24-hour period that saw six people shot and killed, and nine others wounded by gunfire, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says reducing violent crime is his administration’s top priority.
Rev. David Bullock is president of the Detroit chapter of Operation PUSH. He’s among many expressing concern about this uptick in violence. He says there’s a sense of hopelessness in many Detroit communities, and the economy and the lack of jobs both contribute to the problem of street violence.
“If there aren’t any jobs, people are on the street and they are wayward and they become wild. And in the rage, we don’t turn to each other we turn on each other,” said Bullock. “So I would guess that there’s going to be a rise in crime from people who are not career criminals, but who are hungry, who are desperate, who are destitute. And if I can’t find the food on the stove, I will hunt for it. And hunting for it means I’m going to jack your car, I’m going to catch you at a gas station.”
Greg Roberts, head of the state’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, says this rash of violence should be a wake-up call to everybody.
“We have to treat the violence, we have to treat the situations that we have seen with a strong sense of urgency,” says Roberts. And he believes there needs to be a focus on jobs from the very top.
“We need the President to put together a modern-day, 21st century marshal plan that is focused on urban areas across the country,” he said.
Community Leader Bishop Charles Ellis said the recent rash of crime has a deep-seated cause.
“I think it’s the economy. I think it’s a lack of hope, and whenever people feel hopeless then they will make very bad decisions,” said Ellis.
“It’s sad that we have a lot of single parent homes and you don’t have a lot of fathers in the homes. And all of these social ills make for a perfect storm of negativity,” he said.
Ellis, who is pastor of the Greater Grace Temple, said there’s been a rash of similar violence in other large cities this summer, including D.C. and Philadelphia.
Meantime, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee is talking about a plan to get more officers on the streets. (More on this, here).