Waking Up The City: South Bend's "My Brother's Keeper"
Young black men face inherent challenges locally. Some South Bend leaders even calling their plight a crisis. Now, the city is reaching out to bridge divides like police relations and education to show them that they are not alone.
Police, city leaders and youth are tackling gaps in opportunity, education, violence and police relations. But they say they can't do it alone.
"It used to be a neighborhood watch," said Jeermal Sylvester, a member of the My Brothers Keeper movement. "We took the neighbor out the hood and now, it's the hood. So we need to put the neighbor back into the hood."
South Bend police say they are working to do just that.
"It's so important for a police officer to be a part of the community they are protecting," said South Bend Police Department Uniform Chief Jeff Rynearson.
"Guardian versus warrior. It's that mentality that we are here to guard. To protect. And we can't lose sight of that."
Offering second chances to those who fall into trouble with a new group violence strategy, working with companies like Goodwill so one setback doesn't close all doors.
"That's our obligation," said Rynearson. "People have to hit rock bottom to realize this isn't the life for me and thats what we're finding with a lot of these young men."
Its on us, every citizen, to bridge these divides. We are our brothers keeper.
"If you're saying this is my brothers keeper you are not just going to say you look out for your little brother and you don't," said Phillip Williams, a local high school student and youth leader.
"This is a community thing and do we definitely need to wake the city up," said Sylvester. "And the city needs to understand this is an us thing. This is a we thing."