YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Sunday in Youngstown, hundreds of concerned citizens marched to promote nonviolence.
The parade included students, activists, police officers and city government. It kicked off Ohio Nonviolence Week, which lasts through Saturday.
This year so far in Youngstown, 17 people have been killed by gun violence.
“Everyone is afraid because of the gun violence, I’ve heard of senior citizens who are afraid to leave their home because of the gun violence all around them,” said Youngstown Police Chief Carl Davis.
The city is investing $160,000 of American Rescue Plan money into a new police substation on the city’s South Side — and police have upped their recruitment efforts.
“We did some advertising, some billboard advertising, some TV commercials and that did generate some more interest. We were able to get 60 people to come in, signed up for the civil service exam as opposed to previous years when we only had 20 or 30 people come out,” Chief Davis said.
Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown said he’s part of a committee that meets every-other week to discuss city improvements.
“There’s gong to be opportunities for us to partner for our mental health, so there are many pieces that we put together our youth, our mental health, as well as our parks and rec,” Mayor Brown said.
First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver would like to see more community centers where people can meet and realize they have common ground.
“It used to be in the city where we had community centers on every side of town and we had a program in to be able to help put that value back in the community, to say, you know, I’m your brother, I’m your sister, we’ll protect each other,” Oliver said.
Everyone WKBN spoke to agrees the first step towards nonviolence is getting people to just talk to one another.
“In an instant, that trigger is pulled, you know. We both just lost that feeling… You know, ‘Dang, I lost and he lost.’ You know, and then you have to figure out what happens from there. I think the best thing to do is never let it get to the point that a gun needs to be used,” Oliver said.