South Bend leaders hold Town Hall over gun violence

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - This past week was a violent one in South Bend. It saw ten shooting victims as compared to just one during this past week in 2020, according to South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski. As a result, South Bend community leaders and activists got together to try to find a way to end the violence. They held a town hall to discuss that very issue Thursday night. The most common idea? Reach out to the youth in the community and divert them from violence and crime.

"Stop the violence in our community," said South Bend First District Common Councilman Pastor Canneth Lee. "We've got to be willing to do it and not afraid to do it because if we can save a life, we can change this generation."

Lee and other community leaders said the community must turn its attention toward educating kids about life without crime. Chief Roszkowski said getting younger generations to be less violent was something police officers needed, too.

"You have ten shootings in eight days," Chief Ruszkowski said. "Plus, there were a couple others that were advised as shootings. We found out later they were not, but that still takes a very huge psychological, emotional and physical toll on the officers and the officers' family and the rest of the department."

Ruszkowski along with other representatives of local law enforcement said the community must do away with the stigma associated with coming forward with information about a crime. Ruszkowski said parents must also take a more active role in their kids' lives.

"People will look at a description," Ruszkowski said. "They'll look at me and see a male, white police officer standing here. We need to stop that, regardless of what it is. I know how I was raised, and everybody else knows how they were raised. Everybody at some point in time needs to know what 'no' is."

Ruszkowski said if the law has to teach kids what no is, it's too late.

Others at the meeting said there is no longer any trust between police and the most violent areas in South Bend. One leader, a church pastor, said the music kids listen to and the artist to whom they look up has had an impact.

"The music says kill, kill this and kill that," That pastor said. "Every artist, almost, is famous, and they've got a lot of money. So, they look successful. To the kids, that's it."

Councilman Pastor Lee said the community must reach out to the youth and unite in order to finally stop the violence in South Bend.

"It's going to take people coming out of their comfort zone and volunteering their time, but we have to show these young people love," Lee said. "We have to build relationships. Rebuke without relationships causes offense."

Lee said he would also urge other common council members to make more of an appearance with the kids in their districts.

Chief Ruszkowski said there are two important things kids must hear in their early years. Those were "No" and "I love you."

 

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