Chad Brown-East Side Gang Rivalries Fueling Providence Shootings
Saturday, July 12, 2014
"East Side and Chad Brown, I'll be honest, you can't have programs on one side of town, and expect to provide services for the whole city," said James Monteiro, Founder & Executive Director of the Billy Taylor house. “Teny Gross is doing an excellent job but its kind of difficult for the Nonviolence Institute, being centered on the south side of Providence, to have much of an impact in places like Mount Hope & Chad Brown. Our kids end up feeling excluded and that’s why were having the problems that were having now. I work two jobs and my wife works also just for us to make ends meet. The last thing I want is for my 14 year old daughter to have to take a bus downtown to Kennedy Plaza and then another bus over to South Providence, just to have a place to go to access services that are supposed to be in place for her to challenges her and help her find her own autonomy."
Gross, who is the Executive Director of the Institute for Non-Violence located on the city's south side, pointed out that while the recent Chad Brown incident was a "vile act," that gains have been made in recent years in the historically troubled area.
"First of all, let me say that what happened is a vile act, and we strongly condemn it. To go in and spray people like that, they need to be brought to justice," said Gross. "I don't want comment on what people are saying about the gang warfare, but it's part of a larger conflict."
"Overall, Chad Brown's been quieter than it's been in the past. We don't want this to drown out all the good work that's been done. We don't want to minimize this recent violence, but context is important here. We worked with James and the kids this summer, we want to get the parents on both sides together. It's a bad setback, but I'm full of admiration for the streetworkers, and everyone who's working to address the violence."
Community Leaders Address Opportunities, Access
"People like to point to the violence being gang related, but I see it as violence with youth who having nothing positive to do with their time," said Ray Watson, Executive Director of the Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association. "So now we have youths from different neighborhoods, who have families and neighbors with a history connected to violence."
"People talk about needing more police, but unless we have more money for programs, for job training, everything's just talk," said Watson, of the latest violence. "But regardless of anything else, these are our children shooting our children. What are we doing to address the violence? We can yell and scream about they're not giving us enough money, but every time you point a finger, three get pointed back at you. The "It's On Us" movement in the community was created to empower the residents in the areas directly involved in the violence."
Dwayne "Boo" Hackney who co-owns the It's Hair barbershop on Broad Street, has been a community leader in the anti-violence effort, which he said he's been involved with "forever."
"What's fueling the violence is a lack of knowledge of self. If we don't know who we are, we can't see another for who they are. We've been indoctrinated about how important self-esteem is, but not on what self-worth is," Hackney continued. "When things are good, when you drive a nice clean car, that's self-esteem. But when that goes -- self-worth keeps you away from doing those things to get that car back, doing something unlawful. And that's what we're trying to teach our kids."
Hackney spoke to the the 300 Men Movement, which meets every other Thursday at Alvarez High School. "We fund our own movement. We're out there on the streets for the kids. We were just at the Met Basketball League, we go over to the Billy Taylor league. When there's violence, we'll talk with the shooters. We'll make demands, and let them know we're there for them, but we draw the line. We can't expect anything of our kids we don't expect of ourselves."
Bringing Communities Together
"A good model to follow for programming is how the police force is structured. They have a main headquaters close to downtown, and substations located in each neighborhood where the officers are stationed out of. Officers stationed on the East Side cover that side of town and officers stationed on Southside cover that side of town and then they report back to their main headquarters. When there is an emergency and at the end of each day they report back to headquarters and communicate and address any problem that may exist. As a result of them being stationed in certain neighborhood the hope is that they begin to build relationships within those neighborhoods which allows for the potentiality to address problems before they get to far out of hand," said Monteiro.
Monteiro continued, "That’s what we need in each community, organizations that act as substations for youth in each community to go to, and maybe then, through these substations, can we begin to address some of the issues that these youth are going though, such as the the low self esteem, abuse, trauma, and the hoplessness, and bring them youth together."
Gross as well saw a commitment to recreation -- for all youth in the city -- as necessary to combat the violence on the streets.
"We just reopened the Davey Lopes pool, which is good," said Gross. "It's cheap to say that kids need better...we need to have double, triple the resources for these kids, to have second, the third floors of rec centers for theater, for arts. It should be like afterschool at the Wheeler School. We're looking for magical solutions, but the poor kids deserve that all that the other kids have as well. We're in the business here of fixing kids -- we want to be in the business of building it right."
Hackney said of the cross-town violence, "There's no separation among us, and we're trying to get our children to adopt that themselves. We're not asking them to do anything we wouldn't do ourselves. There's no need for this -- we want the adults to come across the highways, and give their brothers and sisters across town a big hug."
NAACP Issues Call to Action
In response to the recent outbreak of violence, the NAACP Providence Branch, along with a number of neighborhood organizations, has issued "A Call to Action" as the result of the "continual acts of violence in our neighborhoods."
In a release sent on Friday, the NAACP recommended that Mayor Taveras convene a "call to action" planning summit of the Providence City Council, public, and private leadership to develop a short and long term strategic plan to address the causes of violence in Providence; that Governor Chafee direct the Governor's Workforce Board to establish targeted workforce development programs in the neighborhoods of high unemployment in the City of Providence; and that the Mayor and Providence City Council evaluate the Providence Recreation Department to determine its effectiveness in providing recreation and youth development services to increase its relevancy.
In addition, the NAACP requested that the Attorney General dedicate 15% of the Google settlement funding to support youth development and ex-offender training and employment programming and that the Public Safety Commission establish a community liaison to connect the high crime neighborhoods with the police department to help prevent wars and provide mediation support.
The NAACP Providence Branch will hold a press conference on Monday, July 14th at 5:30 at the Garrahy Judicial Complex One Dorrance Plaza Providence, Rhode Island 02903 to address the issues.
Related Slideshow: Providence’s Most Violent Neighborhoods
Each week, the Providence Police Department releases its "Weekly Crime Comparison Report" on its website. The breakdown covers how many crimes have occured in the past week, past month, and year to date in each Police District and comparing them with the same time interval from the year prior, reflecting changes in crime rates. GoLocal has distilled the key data points from this weeks report to reflect YTD crime data grouped by general category- violent, property, other, and total. For the full report as filed by the PPD, click here.
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