I truly wish we were not "meeting" like this, but it seems to be deja vu all over again. First things first, let's acknowledge what the newspaper has pointed out in the latest murder investigation article - some of the individuals murdered were not all law-abiding citizens. That being stated, it simply does not give others the right to act as judge, jury and executioner. These men are loved by someone who would much prefer that, even with their flaws, they remain viable and visible in their lives. Too many assailants are taking it upon themselves to decide who lives and who dies, but the added sadness is that they are getting away with it as well.
The word genocide has been used online in regards to these increasing homicide rates and it is no longer an unreasonable description. Steubenville is a small city and it does not take much to reach the critical point - it is quickly reaching that status. Murder has become not if, but when, and it is ridiculous. Someone knows who is committing these murders, the city is too small for that not to be the case. The idea of no one wanting to be a "snitch" is ludicrous - evil thrives when good men or women do nothing, and it is thriving. What will be your opinion when the tragedy hits your family? What will you want done?
The prevalent consensus it that the murders are being committed by outside elements, and this is an old story. Many of the drugs and gang activity that occurred years ago had the same story attached to them. The community, therefore, is enslaved by persons not native to the area. Harriett Tubman stated that she had freed a thousand slaves and could have freed a thousand more had they known they were slaves. Were this statement made with another ethnic group oppressing our community, there would be riots in the streets. We have residents marching and peacefully trying to bring about change as well as people attending council meetings to be heard. The police department is supposed to be stepping up its presence, but it is not working judging by the fact that more daytime shootings are occurring. If people do come forward to report the information they have, who will protect them?
At some point there have to be methods of operation to tackle the problems plaguing the area. A building without a strong foundation does not stand. Each group with the betterment of the city in mind has got to work together, and it will be work, but anything worth having is worth the work. It is written that there will always be wars and rumors of war. The war is in the area, and the neighborhoods are not on foreign soil. I am concerned that an innocent child will fall victim in the crossfire of these senseless acts with summer approaching. If this festering wound is left untreated, it will spill over to other communities and, once that happens, then the ugliness will go into overdrive. All fronts have to be tapped into to make any dent in the problem.
Within the home, constant and consistent involvement in the lives of the children you are raising is important, yes common sense but must be applied. Yes, school is now out, but when it is in, parental communication with teachers and administrators is vital. The police must reach out and make all efforts possible to communicate with all the citizens. Marches during sunup should also be done at sundown - it is risky but the more eyes looking the better. Federal training and authorities must be accessed for input in these incidents. There is a young man in the city who has reached out to the Guardian Angels who will offer assistance and training to organize within the city. If outside sources are accelerating the crimes, liken them to vermin, most of which flee when light hits them. Citizens, be the light. It is just a matter of time before more and more families are touched by murder, which is tragic.
I realize that I no longer reside in Steubenville, but I have loved ones who still do and who I am constantly concerned for. More funerals are spoken of on Facebook than there should be. It keeps some of us connected to our home, but it is saddening as well. What businesses will want to position themselves in such a plagued community? What pride can the youth have in an area where they come from with more vacant, rundown buildings than active and used ones? What is being offered to the youth to counter these senseless acts of violence? Gauge the teens in the area and let their concerns be heard as well, but continue to encourage them and promote higher education as much as possible. Knowledge is power and always will be. There must be some improvements so that anyone can feel comfortable in coming home when the desire hits them as opposed to when the call is to return for yet another funeral.
(Moye, a resident of Kingwood, Texas, is the daughter of the late Coleman Mullins, who served on Steubenville City Council and was a community leader.)