Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The shooting death of a five-year-old boy in Northview Heights Saturday has focused attention on the violence plaguing some Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Mayoral candidate Franco "Dok" Harris held a news conference at the Northview Heights Bridge this morning to hear from community leaders who work in those neighborhoods and to put forth his ideas about reducing the violence. Harris says getting police out of their cars onto the streets forging personal relationships in the community could help and would not cost money the city doesn't have.
El Gray of One Vision One Life says until a community takes responsibility for itself, all the policing in the world is not going to help--a sentiment echoed by speakers from the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing, by a group called One Hood, and by Franco "Dok" Harris himself. At the same time, the frontline workers say the reasons communities are not keeping their children safe range from drugs, fear of retaliation, babies having babies, and a lack of positive opportunities--all of which require remedies beyond the resources of communities by themselves. Richard Garland, Executive Director of One Vision One Life, says young people need jobs and job training as alternatives to drugs and violence.
Franco "Dok" Harris says as mayor, he would be out knocking on doors, encouraging people to overcome their fears and to take back their neighborhoods. He says it's not going to be accomplished in one or two mayoral terms but will require consistent leadership and commitment over a number of years.