CINCINNATI — At a news conference Tuesday evening, Cincinnati mayor John Cranley said the July 4 shooting at Smale Riverfront Park that left two teens dead and three wounded is an indication of the lack of personal values and the failure to act by state legislature on the issue of gun violence.
“We need to, you know, put our hands and love and hugs and attention on our young people, and to talk about the true meaning of respect and self-respect and self love and not this, you know, ‘BS,’ where you feel like you have to kill somebody who looks at you the wrong way,” Cranley said.
Leaders in Westwood – a community recovering from an incident where two boys under the age of 10 were shot in a quadruple shooting – said those values aren’t necessarily missing, they simply need to be nurtured.
“The mayor, he doesn’t know these children,” Third Rec Center mentor Carol Brown said. “He only knows what he sees around him and his big house. He don’t know what he sees around us. We are a family here and we love our kids.”
Brown works as a mentor at the Third Presbyterian Church recreation center. Her son was shot and killed in 2019 – and she uses her story to teach kids that violence is not the answer.
Six days a week, members of the church host a recreation program on the basketball court – working to keep young people engaged and off the streets.
“If this church was not here, I think about that,” East Westwood Community Council president Rodney Christian said. “I said, ‘Wow, those kids over there on the court right now, where would they be?’ There’s nothing in this community.”
He said values are the reason he and his staff stay in the community – because local kids need a place to go.
“The West Side needs a rec center,” Christian said. “There’s land sitting.”
He also said Westwood and other communities like his need city leaders to visit and talk with families to pinpoint those who are doing the work and have conversations about how the city can help.