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West Louisville gun violence sparks more calls for change

West Louisville gun violence sparks more calls for change

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM

LOUISVILLE Ky, (WHAS11) - More gun violence in West Louisville Monday night sparked more calls for a solution on Tuesday.

After a 15 year old Shawnee High School student was killed and a four year old girl was injured in what police believe to be unrelated shootings, Mayor Greg Fischer called violent criminals, "knuckleheads," and insisted that even with recent violence, Louisville is still one of the safest big cities in the country.

"It may not feel like it at times," Fischer said, "but when you look at the statistics, it is.  But we can always do better."

The first meeting of a 37 member Violence Prevention Work Group launched by Fischer on June 7 is scheduled for Monday, June 18.

"If no one works together, nothing's going to get accomplished," said "Helen," a Park Hill resident who requested anonymity.  "It's going to keep being the same vicious cycle year after year."

One of the task force's first orders of business is an inventory of community programs available to young people in West Louisville.

"Ultimately, it comes down to individual people, right, and the decisions that they make or choose not to make," Fischer told WHAS11.  "But, as a city we need to pull together and say are we doing all the things that we can to provide the resources, the opportunities that people have.  And this is a journey that's not going to be ending anytime soon."

"There's so much blight and despair that you know exactly why it's happening," said Councilwoman Attica Scott (D-1st District), "People are desperate and they're depressed."

Scott repeated her criticism of Fischer's selections for membership on the task force, saying they are "disconnected" from the people most directly affected.

"There are twice as many men as women (on the commission), maybe two or three people under the age of 40, one person in their 20's," Scott told WHAS11.  "The people who are getting shot and killed are in their 20's, and as we see now, teenagers."

"When you analyze the make-up of the task force, it's very diverse in terms of geography, in terms of age," Fischer countered.  "So, I frankly don't understand the people who are critical of that."

One task force member is activist Christopher 2x, who told WHAS11 that it's the most focused attention to stopping violent crime in the ten years he has been speaking for crime victims.

"I don't believe personally that you can throw millions and millions of dollars at this issue," 2x said.  "I believe that you start to change the hearts and minds of the individuals to get involved more."

"You only learn what you see," Helen said, "and a lot of these young men are products of their environment."

"Lots of these young men have grown up in these projects, the prison," she continued.  "It's like a lack of education. Sometimes they need more mentors and role models to actually help give them a push."

The Park Hill resident said the breakdown of the family has broken West Louisville, leaving young men to learn from the streets, instead.

"I think it's a lot of pride," she added.  "I think it's a lot of these people don't know anything other than these projects or how the projects work."

"Helen" and "Keisha," another resident who requested that her name not be published, said when new people move into their neighborhood, especially from other housing projects - it can challenge the social hierarchy.

"Territorial issues," Keisha explained.  "You know, some dudes don't like people stepping on their toes - if you are in their zone or their area.  Then they feel like you disrespected them and they feel like they have no choice but to protect their territory.  It's like an animal."

"These are not men.  They're kids," Keisha said.  "You know, they're going to keep killing each other.  We not going to have no future for us being black - we ain't going to be nowhere."

The women suggested that law enforcement efforts often target the wrong people.

"The police officers, their main concern is to chase like drug dealers, guys involved in like dice games," Helen said.  "There's no meetings, no community involvement.  We hear on the news all the time this task force is being put in place.  Nothing is being accomplished."

The residents say they welcome community help, but know that real change comes from within.

"It's up to us to do better," Keisha said. 

What can change that?

"Us. The people."

"We got to live for tomorrow. We got to live for a better us," Keisha said.  "Living in the projects ain't what we want to do our whole life."

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