Saundra Hayes, a community organizer in the Manheim Park neighborhood, recently shared these eloquent thoughts about murders that took place during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend:

“Can any one of us truly make sense of such an utterly senseless transgression? And what scars, if any, do these fatal bullets that have once again left grieving victims leave on our community’s image?                         

This kind of behavior rips the fabric of our neighborhoods and our sense of community.  But homicide is not an indictment of our community or the people who live in our community, because the urban core is home to a lot of warm, wonderful, law-abiding people.

The media has reported several interviews with neighbors near where the incident occurred who said that arguing was heard coming from the home and gunfire could be heard, but no one called the police.

Watchfulness, observation, caring about the welfare of your neighbor and calling the police when an altercation is taking place are the main weapons communities have in our own fight against crime. Taking back control of our neighborhoods through focused and diligent teamwork can change a lot – and that should never be forgotten.

As a community, what can we do, where do we start, and who, if any one, has the answers? Let’s talk about preventive measures, starting with an honest look at the root causes of the senseless, violent crime that we are seeing much too often, especially among our youth. Statistics show that social problems such as child abuse, the misuse of drugs and alcohol, mental illness, poor parenting, lack of love, nurturing and education and unemployment are often associated with criminal activity.  So, when communities and organized neighborhood associations, partners and stakeholders all work together to reduce and thwart crime, we are without doubt creating healthy communities that are safer, cleaner and sustainable in many ways.”

Thanks, Saundra. We couldn’t agree more.