CINCINNATI - Alicia Johnson stood in the doorway of her East Price Hill home Wednesday, tightly clutching a picture of her son Donelle, 21, who was shot and killed Tuesday in the West End.
She was tired, emotional and angry that someone would take her son's life in broad daylight at the busy intersection of Liberty and John Streets.
"This has got to stop," she proclaimed. "Mothers burying their children. This is not what they do. It's unnecessary violence. Unnecessary."
Donelle Johnson's murder was Cincinnati's 28th of 2011, a figure that renewed calls for increasing funding for CIRV -- the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence.
"He did his time. He paid his debt to society," Johnson said of Donelle, who was released from prison 34 days ago after serving a sentence for robbery. "My son was not in any more trouble. My son wasn't doing nothing."
Johnson said she's been told he was walking down the street, somebody tried to rob him and then shot him at point-blank range.
"These kids are out here killing each other for nothing," she said. "It needs to stop."
A few miles away in the West End, another mother grieved for a son whose life had been stolen by a gunman on the corner of 13th and Main streets in Over-the-Rhine.
Santino Furr was shot after leaving the Hamilton County Courthouse, where he'd appeared on a drug charge. He asked for home incarceration to care for his sister, who was paralyzed in the January shooting at Tucker's Restaurant on Vine Street.
Furr's mother, Nickelle Burgin, said her son was told he would have to serve his sentence in the Hamilton County Justice Center once space became available. Within minutes he was dead, killed while holding a young child in his arms. The child was not hurt.
"If anybody knows anything or saw anything, can you please come forward," Burgin pleaded. "Please -- and get these people off the street."
Burgin also had a message for the community.
"Please put down the guns and stop the violence," she said. "Please!"
Members of Cincinnati City Council cut funding for CIRV from $861,000 in 2010 to $184,000 for 2011. That reduced the number of street advocates from 16 to five and resulted in the loss of Program Director Stan Ross.
Cincinnati City Councilmember Cecil Thomas called the street advocates "violence interrupters" and said he's going to try and find money to get CIRV back to full strength.
"I'm going to push extremely hard because this is an example of what is to come as the weather gets warmer and warmer in to the summer," he said. "$184,000 is just not going to be able to allow us to to much of anything.'
CIRV street advocates concentrated on trying to get associates of suspected criminals away from lives of crime. That was done through "call-ins" where those at-risk were counseled on changing their lifestyle.
"We put a tremendous amount of training and intervention into the violence we have in our city," Thomas said. "But, to cut the head off of that and just stop it, then you start to see the uptick (in shootings and homicides)."
Thomas said most of the violence involves young African-Americans shooting other African-American males as part of sects, groups or gangs.
Reggie Brazzile has been hired by the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission as CIRV's new Program Director. He has bold plans to try and expand the reach of the organization.
"This shooting is wrong," he said. "It's killing too many of our babies and it must stop."
Right now, CIRV consists of Brazzile and four street advocates, but he'd like more help.
"The resources don't come from City Hall. The resources are in the community," he said. "The resources are men who will stand up for their community, who will stand up for positive living and who will stand up for righteous living."
Brazzile said they men can be white, black, Asian, Italian and any other nationality who will say that any man dying senselessly is wrong.
He's urging all of them to join him Friday at 2 p.m. at South Avondale School to walk children home from school to try and stop the shootings, stop the killings and stop the violence.
The CIRV leader also had a very direct message for those involved in the gunplay.
"I want to ask the dope boys. I want to ask the robbery guys. I'm asking you to please put the guns down in our community. All it's doing is causing more death and more blood and it is senseless," he said.
"We are not savages. We are not uncivilized. We can hand disputes without senseless murder," Brazzile added. "Too many sons are dying on these streets for no reasons at all. Find another way to resolve your conflicts."
Rev. Peterson Mingo is a Walnut Hills pastor, who is volunteering his time to work with CIRV right now. He said CIRV is the best programs to come along in Cincinnati for a long time.
"The homicide rate went down when CIRV was at its full potential," Rev. Mingo said. "Street advocates were intervening, settling disputes, giving hope, directing the to different programs and being life coaches."
He added that