Near Northwest Neighborhood residents host meeting to address gun violence
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Dozens of neighbors living in South Bend's Near Northwest side neighborhood, city councilors and county commissioners all came out to address community concerns about gun violence.
“This is the most valuable part of South Bend, and we’re gonna lose it!” said Michael Clark, a man affected by gun violence.
André Northern, the community organizer who put together this meeting, said “It’s something that we do have to get a hold of, now that things are opening back up, we want to get that trend back down.”
The meeting was led by a panel of local activists and police-- who listed a variety of reasons for an increase in violence on the Near Northwest side: from easy access to guns, poverty, and a lack of parental involvement or programs for young people, who are then being recruited into gangs.
According to SBPD, 60% of the shootings last year were caused by violent groups and gangs.
But the panelists were quick to say that while the causes are easy to see, there is no quick fix for gun violence.
“If we take these issues in isolation, nothing gets solved," said Linda Raven, a Near Northwest Neighborhood leader.
Northern knows that there's many groups who offer programs for troubled teens to take part in, and hopes meetings like this can create more communication between those groups.
"We need to work together more and forge relationships to optimize the programs that we have in place, and we need to work together to actually bring the youth to the programs," he said.
One thing is clear-- the Near Northwest Neighborhood agrees that they need to come together to solve the problem, no matter the solution.
Rev. Greg Brown, another community activist, addressed the crowd, and said “The only way we’re going to get up, is we got to get up together. You can turn around and take the leg off a chair and it’ll fall down. If we’re together and you’re about what I’m saying then everybody stand up and say ‘let’s go!’ Stand up and let’s go! Everybody get out of your chairs! This is our community! Our South Bend community!”
Northern plans on hosting more of these community meetings, and despite the larger turnout, he hoped to see more neighbors and younger members of the community as well.