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Local Violence - The Chickens Have Come To Roost
9/21/2016 3:21:44 PM

By Barney Blakeney

A Charleston man was gunned down last week on a busy peninsula Charleston street corner just steps away from his parents’ home. A month before, another man was killed just blocks away. And in North Charleston, the Dorchester Waylyn neighborhood has been the site of three shootings (one resulting in murder) in the past two weeks. Last Friday night, another man was killed about a mile away in the old Hub Village community on Azalea Drive. But when residents of the Waylyn-Dorchester Terrace Neighborhood Association held a community meeting to address the violence, fewer than 20 people attended. None of the city’s council members attended.

Last month a resident of a North Charleston housing complex was doing laundry at the neighborhood laundry room. She asked her 11-year-old son to take a basket of clothes to their car. Outside the laundry room the boy was approached by two men, one held a gun to the boy’s head, demanded the car keys. They then stole the car. Armed robberies regularly take place in the complex, said the boy’s grandmother, a North Charleston Police Department employee. She doesn’t encourage residents to go out after dark.

North Charleston City Council Dist. 10 Councilman Michael Brown said crime occurs throughout the city, but is more concentrated in minority communities. He noted one Accabee resident recently moved out of the neighborhood after her home was shot up. Janice, a downtown Charleston resident, said she wanted to attend the funeral of one of the men most recently killed, but didn’t go because she feared violence might occur at the funeral.

Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood Association Vice President A.J. Davis was at last Saturday’s Waylyn community meeting. He applauded president Tanang Williams for taking the initiative to address crime in the community. Her meeting followed another conducted last month by the 100 Black Men of the Lowcountry whose members regularly walk through the neighborhood talking to young men offering alternatives to violence.

Violence in the metropolitan Charleston area is out of control said the grandmother of the young boy accosted by car thieves. Young men are killed and community leaders hold meetings that only a few people attend. The process is repeated over and over again each time a community gets frustrated by another murder.

“We’re spinning our wheels, but we’re not moving. We’re having forums, but as far as education and jobs, nothing’s available for our young black males. The chickens have come home to roost. It’s bad now, but it’s going to get worse,” she said.

Davis echoed those sentiments. Our communities are having conversations about stopping the violence, but the conversations aren’t saving lives, he said. He compares the rate of homicides locally to that of Chicago. Proportionately the percentages are about the same, he said.

“Even if we’re not there (at the same homicide rate as Chicago) we will get there if we don’t do something. We seem to have this poverty mindset about what we can do to address our situation. We have resources in our communities to address violence. We need to identify them and take advantage of them,” he said.

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