Community meeting

Emergency community meeting held to create plan to stop gun violence in Pittsburgh area – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Community activists, politicians and residents attended an emergency community meeting in Homewood to begin creating an action plan to reduce gun violence.

“There has been an increase in violence in the black community. Many young people lose their lives. The carnage must stop. We say enough is enough, ”said Rashad Byrdsong, CEO of the Community Empowerment Association.

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The Community Empowerment Association hosted the meeting at Homewood on Thursday evening. As an urgent call for change, Byrdsong issued a call to action to the entire community. He asked community stakeholders to roll up their sleeves to start developing a comprehensive plan.

(Photo credit: KDKA)

“There are several things we need to do. We need to invest in the communities where these young boys live, invest in education, invest in jobs and training. Police need to be part of this larger conversation. The mayor’s office, the county executive, we all need to be able to come together and sit down and come up with a comprehensive plan that includes the community, ”Byrdsong said.

Byrdsong said he spent 25 years helping young people and preventing violence. He knows the pain of this type of loss all too well. His grandson, Jafar Brooks, was 15 when he was shot and killed in Penn Hills in December 2020.

There were around 90 homicides in Allegheny County in 2021. The vast majority of victims were in their teens and twenties.

“These kids should be having fun, getting their high school diploma, getting ready to go to college, but yet they’re in the grave. It’s an emergency, an emergency in black life, ”Byrdsong said.

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Byrdsong and others in attendance wanted Thursday’s meeting to be more than just a meeting where people chat.

State representative and mayoral candidate Ed Gainey said the root cause of this violence must be eradicated.

“The violence in the city must stop. We are losing too many young people, children aged 14, 15, 16 who are thinking about the murder, ”said Gainey.

Those involved believe that now is not the time to be silent, but the time to collaborate and act.

“I would like to see change in my community. I’m tired of seeing our children gunned down with gun violence, ”said Barbara Daniels, a resident of Homewood. “I would love to be here so that we can be solution-oriented as a community and come together and not talk about the problems but talk about a plan, develop a plan so that we all come together to help each other because we are all suffering from this.

Byrdsong brought up several ideas during the meeting, including the need for a directory of services and a way to collaborate with each other. Byrdsong added that more investment in violence prevention programs is needed.

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Byrdsong said the community at large must be a part of this effort. He wants to continue communicating and having frequent meetings until a plan is finalized. Anyone wishing to help can contact the Community Empowerment Association here.