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Saturday, 30 June 2012

North Side gunfire worries many

08:16 |

The spate of what police are calling gang-related violence on the North Side has neighbors concerned that someone they know could be the next victim and has advocates pressing for more social services in poor city neighborhoods. “It’s scary because you don’t know if you’re going to have a bullet come through the kitchen window or whether you can walk safely down the street,” said Racquel Long, 54, of the Mexican War Streets. There were 22 reports of shots fired in the North Side over the past eight days, police said on Friday. Matthew Burton, 21, of the Hill District and Deondre Kenny, 15, of the North Side were fatally shot on Thursday in the latest outbreak of violence. Police said Burton had a criminal record and an association with the Brighton Place Crips, a North Side gang, but did not elaborate. Police either don’t know or won’t reveal a motive for the shootings. On Monday, someone fired shots outside a North Side funeral home where gang members were among those attending the wake for a young man who had committed suicide. No one was injured. Police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney of the city’s North Side station said increased violence over a short period of time is often the result of drug-related incidents tied to gangs. Brackney would not say whether the shootings are connected. “I’m not going to say there was a common thread with any of these shootings. We don’t have any retaliation-connected ones yet,” she said. Anti-violence advocates said at least some of the shootings could be prevented. “The government is cutting back on a lot of the programs that have been created to deal with gang violence,” said Rashad Byrdsong, founder of Community Empowerment Association, which provides family, community and school programs in the North Side. “A lot of schools have been closing down, cutting back on after-school activities and programs. ... All of these things are related.” Byrdsong believes the solution to the problem is more than taking guns off the streets. “It’s about looking at the increase in frustration and stress, looking at the trauma,” he said. “Some of these young guys have lost four or five, up to 10 friends. How’s that impacting their psyche?” Chris D’Addario, president of the Central Northside Neighborhood Council, said the violence can be demoralizing. “It’s tragic, but we’re not going to stop caring about each other, stop walking our streets, stop the development,” he said. “This isn’t the first time the North Side has seen violence. But we don’t hear those gun blasts like we did 10 years ago or five years ago.” Perry South resident Barbara Scott, 62, said she does not understand the reason for the violence. “These kids don’t know the consequences of their actions. That ain’t no way to go through life,” she said.

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