City activists seek answers to street violence
In an attempt to stop local street violence, residents are teaming up with New Brunswick authorities to make the city streets safer through various efforts.
David Harris, executive director of the Greater New Brunswick Daycare Council, said community leaders and activists in New Brunswick are exploring different ways to combat criminal activity. The key, he said, is to find and attack the source of the problem.
“To reduce violence, we have to have a fair and just society to grow up in,” said Harris, a University alumnus.
Harris said many of the issues on the street could be traced back to the harmful environment that some of the local residents find themselves in.
“Violence is the end result of the circumstances people live in,” he said.
Harris took part in an anti-violence forum held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in New Brunswick last Wednesday, where several local residents came together to discuss the city’s criminal problems.
According to an article on Patch.com, the forum members discussed a letter written by C. Roy Epps, president and CEO of the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick.
The letter listed steps that Epps’ organization was taking with the local law enforcement and community groups toward reducing the violent crimes in New Brunswick, according to the article.
Epps said in his letter that Anthony Caputo, director of the New Brunswick Police Department, has been attending meetings with Assistant City Attorney Charly Gayden and NBPD Sgt. Scott Gould to address the issues. The meetings have been producing results, such as the establishment of a New Brunswick Auxiliary Police Unit, Epps said.
“More volunteers should be recruited for the next training cycle in the spring of 2013,” Epps said in the letter.
Harris said community leaders must realize that much of the city’s criminals come from the isolated areas that historically have high crime rates, while younger people usually become accustomed to their violent surroundings.
“When children see injustice, they follow what they see,” he said.
The city’s priorities have to be refocused to curb street violence, he said.
Members of the Greater New Brunswick Daycare Council have been involved in some of the city’s new construction projects, committing to an effort to improve the lives of residents, Harris said.
“We’ve placed brick-and-mortar projects in the central business district above quality schools and quality health care,” Harris said.
Students at the University can get involved to help solve some of the city’s problems, he said, but they tend to be too preoccupied with their University schedule to lend a hand.
“Students are very busy doing what they came here for, getting a [college] degree,” he said.
Harris says if students find the time to get more involved in New Brunswick politics, things can be much safer for people in the city.
Jovanni Innocent, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said he thinks the best way to stop street violence is to educate local citizens on how to stay out of dangerous situations.
“Be smart [when you’re out at night], walk in groups, avoid dark areas and after a certain time you shouldn’t be out and drunk,” Innocent said.
Ahmed Chaudry, a School Of Arts and Sciences senior, said the NBPD should take more responsibility to protect citizens.
“There should be more police officers in the areas [of New Brunswick] at night,” Chaudry said.
Carisa Sousa, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said students could participate in the cause against street violence by providing information they know on crime activity.
“Young people should report crimes [that they see],” Sousa said.
Harris said he is optimistic that city activists and local authorities can find solutions to the street violence issues, but that people must remember that it will take time until improvements are visible.
“Reducing violence isn’t as easy as taking two aspirins,” he said.
The next public forum will be held on March 20 at the Board of Education Meeting, Harris said.