CINCINNATI — Despite Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac's call to communities to step up in stopping violence among Cincinnati youth, community leaders said programs and positions to provide that support are underfunded.
After five people were shot, two fatally, Sunday night in Smale Park, community leaders have worked to come together, but they warn that solutions take time.
"There has to be a solution other than police just managing this," Isaac said during a press conference Monday afternoon. "We don’t want to overpolice, and we don’t want to underpolice. We have to find the correct balance."
Iris Roley, with the Black United Front, said there are many reasons why violence among young people might be spiking, but not enough solutions.
"I've asked this question as a Black United Front member for the past 20 years," said Roley. "What are we going to do about the guns?"
She said there was a program several years ago called "Out of the Crossfire," led by a University of Cincinnati researcher who talked one-on-one with shooters.
"She would be able to do a holistic intake and wrap services around them to understand what placed them in that predicament," said Roley.
But money for the program dwindled.
However, the spirit of community discourse is still alive: Pastor Damon Lynch III plans to open up his Roselawn church for a community conversation about gun violence in Cincinnati.
"It's easy to say Tamir Rice, John Crawford, III, Walter Scott, George Floyd, Sandra Bland," said Lynch, pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church. "We know those names like the back of our hands. But nobody's going to say Milo Watson, Sean Johnson, Dexter Wright. We have to have the same vigilance, the same concern, for the loss of these three men who died last night in Cincinnati as we do for others who died at the hands of police."
In the God Squad, Pastor Jackie Jackson agrees.
"As a community, we are allowing ourselves to be held hostage by shooters and killers," said Jackson. "Because they feel emboldened knowing they can walk around the community and no one's going to say anything. No one's going to tell on them."
Jackson said, sadly, for more people to speak up, the violence often has to hit closer to home.