Enlist today in anti-crime crusade in Youngstown


As the city of Youngs- town reels from yet another all-too-familiar senseless surge in cold-blooded murders over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of residents and workers in the city have every good reason to be fed up.

As of Friday afternoon, Youngstown had recorded eight homicides so far this year, including three within the past three weeks. Last year, the city did not log its eighth homicide until late June.

Beyond the numbers, these despicable, deadly crimes have been punctuated by extreme brazenness and deep-seated depravity.

Witness the most recent killing of a 25-year-old man in broad daylight on Tod Lane in a shootout from which city police recoverd more than 50 bullet shell casings.

Or witness the slaying of a helpless 2-month-old infant on the city’s North Side last month, a case in which the father has been charged with murder and felony assault.

Or witness the first homicide of the year in January in which a 24-year-old Youngstown woman was gunned down and killed as she tried to shield her 2-year-old son from a hail of dozens of bullets not intended for either one of them.

Collectively, these and other fiendish homicides reinforce anew the city’s long-standing – but sadly deserved – reputation as a nationally known hotbed of violent thuggery. Though the city’s murder rate has fallen markedly since the 1990s (the city had recorded 20 homicides by April 13, 1994), there’s no room for celebration today. After all, today’s per-capita murder rate in Youngstown continues to exceed that of the notoriously mean streets of Chicago.

APATHY IS UNACCEPTABLE

Against this disturbing backdrop, some who live and work in the city have become numb to this relentless epidemic of violent crime.

Such attitudes of apathy, indifference and ignorance will do nothing, however, to make the city safer. Indeed if Youngstowners ever hope to take back their streets, a united, coordinated and action-oriented army of foot soldiers from all quadrants of the city will need to seriously commit themselves to this paramount priority.

Fortunately, a group of passionate and foresighted community activists will begin amassing and recruiting such an army today.

Youngstown: A Crime Free Zone, a coalition of city and neighborhood leaders who are sick and tired of the immense toll violent crime continues to take on the city, are sponsoring a series of four simultaneous rallies at 1 p.m. today at four campuses of the Youngs-town City School District.

The rallies will take place at Harding Elementary School, Taft Elementary School, East High School and McGuffey Elementary School. Each of them deserves maximum support and standing-room-only attendance.

Though the organization initially planned the coordinated anti-violence crusade as a fitting end to National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the recent spike in murders in the city makes its purpose more compelling and its message more urgent.

Members of Crime Free Zone merit commendations for the high caliber of planning for the rallies, which is evident in the high-caliber quality of their principal speakers.

They include Vondale Eugene Singleton Sr., founder of CHAMPS, a Chicago-based mentoring program for young males; Jose Morales Sr., former YPD detective; George Spencer, president of Mad Dads of Greater Pittsburgh; Youngstown State University President James Tressel as well as former street criminals who today acknowledge the errors of their former ways.

CALL TO ACTION

We not only hope that the community responds to today’s call to action, we also hope this afternoon’s anti-crime rallies serve as just the beginning to a long-term communitywide commitment toward safer streets.

We also hope that those joining today’s campaign will work closely with other important anti-crime campaigns in the city, most notably the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence and operations of the YPD’s community policing team.

Collectively, such a highly visible and multi-pronged offensive replete with maximum community participation can hold real hope toward reducing the wanton carnage that for far too long has been synonymous with Youngstown, Ohio.

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