Solutions for Violence in Syracuse

A “Stop the Violence” call to action brought together 150 people Saturday, Nov. 13, to the Mary Nelson Youth Center. The theme of the event was to discuss and find solutions to halt violence in the community.

Neighbors, organizations, the mayor and the chief of police were all in attendance. The event began inside the youth center located at 2849 S. Salina St. in Syracuse. With standing room only in the rear of the building, it was decided to move the packed crowd to the fenced-in yard located on the side of the building.

Billy Denham-El, the founder of BASH (Brothers Against Systematic Homicide), speaks during a forum on stopping the violence in Syracuse. -- Photo by John C. Liau

The event started off with a prayer led by Pastor Roosevelt Baums and a candle lighting for those who have lost loved ones in violent acts throughout the city. Mary Nelson, who spearheaded the gathering, said “today’s meeting is about answers, we are not going to blame our Mayor, and we’re not going to blame our Chief of Police. This is our responsibility today.”

Different speakers stood up, informing the crowd of various organizations and programs available to take kids off the streets and give them constructive things to do with their time and energy. This being one of the main factors thought to contribute to violent activities in the city in recent years.

Ideas were tossed around as to what might be some solutions to help prevent children from engaging in illegal or mischievous activity which could lead to crime.

Sharon Williams, executive director for the Dunbar Center, proposed consolidating all related citywide organizations so that they may work together to affect change. Pastor Roosevelt Baums gave those in attendance pointers on how to curb idle time by “getting involved in church and education.” Also, by “paying attention to who your child is socializing with.”

Throughout the two-hour event that lasted from 10 a.m. to noon, various people shared stories about situations that led up to them losing loved ones to violence in the last few years. Ultimately the solution came in many layers; parents taking personal responsibility, economic development in the community and consolidating resources.

Kevin Bullock, outreach supervisor for SNUG (guns spelled backward), was in attendance as well as six additional members of the organization. Bullock said “we go into the streets on each side of town and use family influence to try to calm down some of the violence. Giving them a big brother image to redirect them. Also, to give them the reality of the repercussions of their acts.”

Photos taken by John C. Liau from the Community Forum on Youth Violence Mary Nelson held Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. About 150 people attended the forum on stopping the violence in Syracuse including Mayor Stephanie Miner and Police Chief Frank Fowler.