Tonight I sat at the kitchen table of a mother who only hours before learned her son had been murdered. I have never met this woman before, I will never have the chance to know her son. I could only sit with her as one mother to another and try and offer my respect and condolences.
This is her second murdered son that she will burry in less than three years. I had heard her speak her truth, her pain only days before at a March to end violence in Fort Wayne.
I know the uncle of the slain boy, I met him a few months ago while working on a “get out the vote” effort in the 46806 zip code of Fort Wayne. I was instantly impressed with this individual, a genuine human being who has had run ins with the law, been incarcerated and not only has repaid his debt to society but is now working with The Fort Wayne Urban League to mentor and teach young people in his neighborhood.
In the last few months I have met many other members of this community who are heart broken by the deaths of their community members, outraged and working to find a solution to the violence and senseless loss of life.
In this community there are many broken families, families trying to overcome incarceration, alchohol & substace abuse problems, undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, lack of education and employment opertunities.
There are a few organizations on on the outskirts of the community with services, there is TANF, SNAP,WIC,Medicaid, mentor programs, at least 15 churches in the area, The Urban League and many others. However most of the people I have talked to either don’t know many of the services avalible or have been unable to get help.
In this area there is not; a substance abuse clinic, a recreational center for youth to untilize to get them off the streets, employment opportunities, no coffee shops, video game stores,not even a fast food joint, no karate studio or dance classes, no Kroger or pizza joints or healthcare clinics. There are barber shops and liquor stores, churches and a few places such as the Whitney M Young early childhood alliance. The few services avalible are over worked and under funded, this is not an ucomon senerio, but in this neighborhood it is coming with a step loss of life.
This is not a situation unique to Fort Wayne, many cities deal with crime, drugs, gangs and unemployment. However the murders that are happening in this city are disproportionately high compared to other areas. This numbers of young people who are being assaulted and murdered continue to rise at alarming rates.
Many members of the community are coming together to raise awareness, organize marches and meetings. Pleading with elected officials for help and the the bodies continue to pile up.
The police say that they are trying to fix the problem but people from the community are not cooperating. The people in the community say the cops not only are not doing their job, but are shooting unarmed kids. This is not just an issue of lack of information to arrest and prosecute, this is a result of multigenerational trauma and decades of untreated mental illness and substance abuse.
As a citizen I want answers, what are my elected officials doing to address this crisis? Where is the outrage at so many citizens being murdered?
If this was happening in my neighborhood, we would have counseling provided, large donations made to fund funrneral expenses, the police would be working non stop to bring an end to it. Elected officials would be meeting to come up with solutions to save our youth. Why are the people in the 46806 zip code not as important as those living in other parts of town?
There have been 16 homicides in Fort Wayne this year, this is a crisis!