Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Murders Are Spawned by Deep Poverty

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Murders Are Spawned by Deep Poverty

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

So we're talking. Again.

Recently, Mayor Lenny Curry announced that he would be holding a series of community conversations to get input on how to combat the violence that has been plaguing this city for nearly two decades.

The latest tragedy that helped to spawn the conversations, one that was eerily reminiscent of the fatal shooting of 8-year-old DreShawna Davis 10 years ago, was that of 22-month-old Aiden Michael McClendon.

Like DreShawna, who was watching a Dr. Seuss cartoon with her cousins when the living room of her grandmother's Northwest Jacksonville home was sprayed with bullets, Aiden was fatally shot while sitting in a parked car with his mother and grandmother on the Eastside.

Both DreShawna and Aiden were children who otherwise would have been in a safe space were it not for the intrusion of guns and hopelessness.

Mayor John Peyton got choked up back in 2006 over DreShawna's slaying. Curry got choked up recently over Aiden's slaying. Preachers preached. MAD DADS denounced.

And we're talking again about a problem that needs a cure more than conversation.

First of all, the roots of Jacksonville's violence problem have been analyzed and talked about numerous times over the years.

In 2006, Jacksonville Community Council Inc. examined the issue in its report "Reducing Murder: A Community Response."

It found, among other things, that economic stagnancy in Northwest Jacksonville was a key source of the violence.

"When legitimate economic opportunities are beyond reach or unattractive to potential workers, some turn to crime, especially robbery and illegal drug sales, for survival," the report reads.

"Robbery is associated with 19 percent of murders in Jacksonville, and the selling of illegal drugs contributes to violence that frequently leads to murder."

Then, in its 2009 report, "Our Money, Our City: Financing Jacksonville's Future," JCCI recommended that the City Council increase the millage rate "if the city is to provide services in accordance with local community expectations and at levels compatible with similar communities nationally. …

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