Contemporary Issue 2013: Guns 3, Criminal Justice

Contemporary Issue 2013: Guns 3, Criminal Justice


>>DIRECTOR RICHHART. DID I ANNOUNCE WHO I WAS?
>>(all) NO.>>THAT WAS A BIT
ARROGANT OF ME. (audience laughing)
I’M NIKKI BANKS. I’M THE CHAIR OF THE
CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. WE’RE EXCITED TO HAVE
YOU ALL IN OUR PROGRAM, AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING
YOU ALL IN THE WORKFORCE BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT YOU’RE
GOING TO BE STELLAR… BECAUSE WE ACCEPT
NOTHING LESS. NOTHING LESS. SO, AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO
HEARING THAT COME OUT TONIGHT. I’M EXCITED TO
HEAR FROM YOU GUYS. SO, NOW I’LL TURN IT OVER.>>HI, I’M DIRECTOR
JODI RICHHART, AND I’M THE DIRECTOR OF THE
POLICE ACADEMY HERE AT GRCC. SO, HOW MANY OF YOU ARE
HOPING TO GET INTO THE LAW
ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM? (audience laughing)
NOT THE PEOPLE IN THE WHITE SHIRTS–
YOU’VE ALREADY MADE IT. (audience laughing)
YOU’RE HOPING TO GET OUT OF THE LAW ENFORCEMENT
PROGRAM. SO, WE LOOK FORWARD
TO MEETING THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE LOOKING
FORWARD TO GETTING IN
TO OUR PROGRAM SOMEDAY, AND HOPEFULLY BE LIKE
SERGEANT WITTKOWSKI UP THERE. SO, WE’D LIKE TO THANK
OUR PANEL MEMBERS FOR COMING AND SPENDING THEIR
EVENING WITH US. AND WITH THAT, I’LL TURN IT OVER
TO PROFESSOR GARY EBELS AS OUR MODERATOR
FOR THIS EVENING.>>GOOD EVENING! THANKS FOR
EVERYONE COMING! HOPEFULLY
YOU CAN HEAR ME– I’M NOT GOING TO DO
A LOT OF TALKING. MY JOB IS MULTI-FOLD TONIGHT–
ONE IS TO TRY TO KEEP THIS BAND OF WHATEVER THEY ARE
IN LINE AND NOT TALK TOO MUCH, WHICH I THINK WE HAD PROBABLY
OUR BEST DISCUSSION DOWN IN THE OFFICE BEFORE
WE STARTED, SO… SORRY YOU MISSED IT.
(audience laughing) LET ME INTRODUCE
YOU TO THE GROUP THAT YOU HAVE UP HERE. WE’LL START WITH THE MOST
RECOGNIZABLE PERSON DOWN THERE ON THE END– THIS IS
SERGEANT JOHN WITTKOWSKI. SERGEANT WITTKOWSKI HAS BEEN
A GRAND RAPIDS POLICE OFFICER FOR 18 YEARS, AND I MIGHT ADD
THAT EVERYONE SITTING ON STAGE NOT ONLY IN THEIR PROFESSIONAL
EXPERTISE THAT WE HAVE FROM THE COMMUNITY– THEY’RE ALL ADJUNCT
INSTRUCTORS HERE AT GRCC. SO, NOT ONLY DO WE GET
THE EXPERTS IN THE FIELD, WE ACTUALLY GET THEM TO
TEACH OUR STUDENTS WHICH, AS PROFESSOR BANKS SAID,
WE ACCEPT NOTHING LESS. SO, WE REALLY
GOT IT MADE. SO, THAT’S
SERGEANT WITTKOWSKI. SITTING NEXT TO
JOHN IS JAN WILLIS. JAN WAS THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR
FOR THE 61st DISTRICT COURT FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS. AND SHE IS NOW AN ADJUNCT,
AND SHE KIND OF HEADS UP THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE– ER,
ADDICTION STUDIES PROGRAM HERE, WHICH SEEMS TO BE
FAIRLY POPULAR. IN FACT, HOW MANY PEOPLE
HERE ARE DOING SOMETHING EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY IN
THE ADDICTION STUDIES PROGRAM? RAISE YOUR HAND. THERE YOU GO– JOB SECURITY
FOR YOU THERE, JAN. (audience laughing) NEXT TO JAN THERE
IS NIKI EDWARDS. NIKI IS A CORRECTIONS OFFICER
WITH THE KENT COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT
AND INSTRUCTOR– DON’T YOU ALSO TEACH FOR
FERRIS, TOO, SOMETIMES?>>SOMETIMES.
>>SOMETIMES, YEAH. SO, SHE COMES FROM THE
CORRECTIONS ANGLE THERE. NEXT IN NIKI IS
CLIFFORD WASHINGTON. CLIFFORD IS CURRENTLY THE
DIRECTOR OF PRISONER REENTRY
PROGRAMS AT PINE REST AND AN ADJUNCT
INSTRUCTOR HERE. STEVE BRUNINK HERE–
TO GIVE EQUAL TIME HERE– IS FROM THE DARK SIDE, OKAY?
(audience laughing) HE IS AN ATTORNEY WITH THE
KENT COUNTY DEFENDER’S OFFICE. SO, IF HE DOES CHARGE
REASONABLY AFTERWARDS
FOR ANY TALKING HE DOES, IF YOU NEED ANY ADVICE…
(audience laughing) BUT HE’S ALSO AN
ADJUNCT AND TEACHES IN OUR LEGAL ISSUES
AND CORRECTIONS CLASS, AND THAT’S HOW
YOU’LL KNOW HIM. AND THEN, RIGHT NEXT TO ME
HERE IS LYNNELL TALBERT, AND SHE’S A JUVENILE COMMUNITY
CORRECTIONS PROBATION OFFICER. SHE’S ASSIGNED SPECIFICALLY
TO THE SOUTHEAST SIDE OF GRAND RAPIDS, PARTICULARLY
MARTIN LUTHER KING AREA. DOES THAT KEEP YOU BUSY?
>>VERY MUCH.>>VERY MUCH SO, OKAY. ANYWAYS, JUST A QUICK STORY
THAT I THOUGHT OF AS
I WAS STANDING UP HERE– I’M GOING TO REALLY
DATE MYSELF HERE BECAUSE THIS IS WELL BEFORE
MOST OF YOU WERE BORN– BUT IN 1970–
EXCUSE ME, I MEAN IN 1969, I ENLISTED IN
THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, AND ANYBODY WHO’S BEEN
IN THE AIR FORCE KNOWS
YOU GET A FREE TICKET TO A PLACE CALLED SAN ANTONIO
TEXAS LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE. I REMEMBER EVERY MORNING
I GOT UP AND WE STOOD IN LINE TO GO TO BREAKFAST,
AND EVERY MORNING, IN THE NEWSPAPER STANDS THAT
WAS STANDING NEXT TO IT, THEY SHOWED THE FACT THAT
SOMEBODY HAD BEEN MURDERED. THERE IS ANOTHER MURDER
IN SAN ANTONIO THAT NIGHT. I’M GOING, “THIS MUST
BE A REALLY BAD PLACE.” I WAKE UP NOW IN THE
MORNING AND TURN MY T.V. ON, AND VERY SELDOM DO I HAVE A DAY
THAT AT LEAST ONE PERSON HASN’T BEEN SHOT, ANOTHER
PERSON HAS BEEN MURDERED, RIGHT HERE IN GRAND RAPIDS,
AND I THINK TO MYSELF, “WE’VE GRADUATED OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.” AND SO, OUR DISCUSSION
TONIGHT SURROUNDS VIOLENCE, AND WE HAVE SOME SCRIPTED
QUESTIONS WHICH WE ARE
GOING TO ALLOW THE PANEL TO WEIGH IN ON, BASED
UPON THEIR EXPERTISES… AND THEN WERE ALSO GOING
TO GET TO A POINT AT ABOUT
THE SECOND OR THIRD QUESTION, WHERE WERE GOING
TO OPEN IT UP TO YOU AND WE’LL HAVE SOME
OF THESE AROUND THAT YOU CAN ASK
YOUR QUESTIONS, SO THAT EVERYBODY
CAN HEAR AND WEIGH IN. LIKE I SAID, THIS HAS
TO BE COLLABORATIVE. IT’S NOT JUST
THE EXPERTS UP HERE. THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY ALSO
TO GET THOSE QUESTIONS ASKED THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS
WANTED TO ASK HERE. SO, WE’RE JUST GOING
TO START OUT IS– DO WE WANT TO
DO LADIES FIRST? OR DO YOU WANT TO
DEFER TO THE OTHER END? OKAY, WE’RE GOING TO GO
RIGHT DOWN THE ROW HERE. (audience laughing)
LADIES PREROGATIVE, AND IT IS– BY THE WAY,
JUST AS THE FOR THE RECORD, TOMORROW IS
VALENTINE’S DAY, OKAY? (audience laughing)
GUYS, I KNOW THEY SAID THEY DIDN’T WANT ANYTHING… THEY LIED, OKAY?
(audience laughing) MOVING RIGHT ALONG. HERE WE GO, HERE’S OUR FIRST
QUESTION OF THE NIGHT– JOHN, YOU’RE FIRST UP. HOW HAS THE RECENT SURGE OF
VIOLENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY IMPACTED THE YOU
PROFESSIONALLY?>>I WILL USE THE MICROPHONE,
ALTHOUGH I AM QUITE LOUD. CLEARLY, AS A POLICE OFFICER AND
AS A SUPERVISOR ON THIRD SHIFT IN THE CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS,
I DO HAPPEN TO WORK IN THE CORE CITY
WHERE THE MAJORITY OF THE RECENT
VIOLENCE HAS OCCURRED. GRAND RAPIDS HISTORICALLY
AVERAGES ABOUT 16 TO 17 HOMICIDES
A YEAR. UP UNTIL DECEMBER OF
LAST YEAR, WE HAD 11. IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, IF
MY MEMORY SERVES ME CORRECTLY, WE HAD SIX ALONE. AND THEN, WE HAD A COUPLE
ADDITIONAL HOMICIDES IN THE BEGINNING
OF THIS YEAR. OBVIOUSLY, THAT PUTS
A STRAIN ON RESOURCES IN
THE CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, AND DEALING WITH THE ISSUE
OF GUN VIOLENCE IN OUR SOCIETY. AND MUCH OF THE
NOTORIETY AS OF LATE HAS CLEARLY BEEN
AROUND MASS SHOOTINGS. BUT I THINK WE DON’T DO
OURSELVES ENOUGH JUSTICE WITH RESPECT TO THE OVERARCHING
ISSUE OF OUR SOCIETY, AND THAT’S THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE
ATTRIBUTED TO GUN VIOLENCE AND THAT’S SINGLE
VICTIM HOMICIDES. EVERY YEAR,
THERE IS 12,000– APPROXIMATELY 12,000 SINGLE
VICTIM HOMICIDES IN OUR SOCIETY. OVER 8,000– NEARLY 8,500–
ARE ATTRIBUTED TO FIREARMS. THERE ARE 19,000 SUICIDES A
YEAR ATTRIBUTED TO FIREARMS. SO, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THIS
ISSUE OF GUN VIOLENCE, YES, THE NEWTOWNS AND THE VIRGINIA
TECHS AND THE COLUMBINES ARE VERY TROUBLESOME, BUT
WE SOMETIMES FORGET ABOUT THOSE SINGLE VICTIM HOMICIDES
THAT PROFESSOR EBELS HAPPEN ON A DAILY BASIS. AND AGAIN, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO
TOO FAR TO SEE THAT HAPPENING HERE RIGHT IN OUR OWN CITY. IN AN EFFORT TO DEAL
WITH THIS ISSUE IN THE
CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, WE’VE HAD TO TAKE SORT OF
A TOUGH STANCE ON THIS ISSUE. WE’RE POLICE OFFICERS–
WE’RE ABOUT ENFORCEMENT, WE’RE ABOUT CONTROLLING
THE BEHAVIOR OF OUR COMMUNITY, AND SOMETIMES THEY’RE CERTAIN
SEGMENTS OF OUR POPULATION THAT DON’T CARE FOR THAT,
AND I UNDERSTAND THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
OF WHY THIS HAPPENS. AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT
THE MAJORITY OF GUN VIOLENCE IN OUR SOCIETY–
THE VICTIMS AND PERPETRATORS ARE YOUNG BLACK MALES. WE FORGET ABOUT THAT
OFTEN TIMES AND WE HAVE
THIRD AND FOURTH GRADERS GETTING SHOT BY CRAZY PEOPLE
WITH ASSAULT WEAPONS. BUT OUR REAL ISSUE IN OUR
INNER CITY AND OUR CORE CITY IS WITH BLACK ON BLACK CRIME,
AND ON A DAILY BASIS, I SEE NOT NECESSARILY PEOPLE
BEING GUNNED DOWN BUT VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE JUST
SHORT OF DEATH. ABOUT TWO MONTHS AGO, I WAS–
WE WERE CALLED TO AN INCIDENT ON THE SOUTHEAST SIDE. A YOUNG MAN WAS SITTING IN
HIS ROOM PLAYING A VIDEO GAME, LYING DOWN ON THE FLOOR. HIS HOUSE WAS PEPPERED
WITH ABOUT 10 TO 12 ROUNDS. BY THE GRACE OF GOD,
HE WASN’T KILLED. HE DID GET SHOT
BELOW THE EYE GO, JUST ABOUT PUTTING
HIS EYE OUT. NOT TAKING OUT
HIS SINUS CAVITY, AND THE BULLET ACTUALLY
CAME OUT JUST BELOW HIS EAR. AS HORRIFIC AS
THAT IS, HE LIVED, AND MUCH OF WHAT HIS
LIFE IS ABOUT IS TIED
TO THE TYPE OF VIOLENCE THAT HE WAS
VICTIMIZED BY. BUT SIMPLE INCIDENTS
LIKE THAT– AND I SHOULDN’T
CALL THEM SIMPLE– BUT EVERY DAY INCIDENTS
LIKE THAT JUST DON’T MAKE IT IN THE PAPERS. IF THEY DO, IT’S
MAYBE A SMALL CAPTION. AND THAT GOES IN PARTS
OF THE OVERARCHING ISSUE
BEYOND GUN VIOLENCE, IN THAT I THINK LIFE IS JUST
MARGINALIZED IN OUR SOCIETY, THAT WE BECOME DESENSITIZED
TO VIOLENCE TO A GREAT DEAL. THOSE 8,000 HOMICIDES
THAT HAPPEN EVERY YEAR, 8,000 MORE HOMICIDES
FROM THE YEAR BEFORE, AND THE YEAR BEFORE THAT. AND OUR GLORIFICATION
OF VIOLENCE AS WELL. I MEAN, WE SEE VIOLENCE
EVERY DAY IN OUR SOCIETY, IN THE MOVIES, AND VIDEO
GAMES, IN ALL THE SORT. AND I’M NOT AT ALL
TRYING TO FORMULATE
ANY SORT OF CORRELATION OR CAUSATION BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES
AND VIOLENCE IN THE MEDIA, BUT IT GOES TO SHOW THAT
WE SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS TOO EASILY WITH VIOLENCE. AND IN OUR SOCIETY
HERE IN GRAND RAPIDS, UNFORTUNATELY OVER THE 18 YEARS,
I SEE THIS LEVEL OF VIOLENCE PEAK EVERY FOUR
OR FIVE YEARS. WE’LL HAVE THOSE 11 HOMICIDES,
AND THEN IN ONE MONTH, WE’LL HAVE SEVEN… AND THEN THE COMMUNITY
GETS UP IN ARMS. AND THEN THIS WILL SUBSIDE, AND WE’LL COME UP
WITH SOME SOLUTIONS, THEY’LL BE
IMPLEMENTED OR NOT, AND THEN WE’LL GO ON
OUR MERRY WAY. WE’LL HAVE ANOTHER
11 OR 12 HOMICIDES, AND THEN IN FIVE YEARS, WE’LL HAVE ANOTHER 20 AND
THIS WILL BE AN ISSUE AGAIN. AND I DON’T MEAN TO TREAT
THIS PROBLEM AS THOUGH IT’S NOT SIGNIFICANT
FROM THE STANDPOINT OF
EVERYWHERE IN THIS ROOM, BUT FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, AS
A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, IT’S UNFORTUNATE THAT I HAVE
BECOME MYSELF DESENSITIZED TO SOME OF THE ISSUES
IN THE CITY. AND UNFORTUNATELY, I UNDERSTAND
VIOLENCE IS PART OF LIFE, AND I UNDERSTAND
THAT WE HAVE A JOB, BUT I THINK THERE’S FAR
TOO MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT THEIR LIVES ARE REALLY–
THEY REALLY– THEY THEMSELVES TAKE
LIFE FOR GRANTED, AND I THINK THOSE THAT ARE
INVOLVED IN THE STRUGGLE OF VIOLENCE TAKE LIFE
FOR GRANTED. MA’AM?>>BACK THERE– IS THAT
MICROPHONE PICKING UP? THAT MICROPHONE
PICKING UP? YES– IS THAT
A YES BACK THERE? OKAY, YOU’RE ON.>>HE ANSWERED FOR ALL OF US.
>>CAN WE JUST SAY, “ME, TOO”? (audience laughing)
NO– NOT ALLOWED?>>YOU’RE UP.>>CAN WE JUST SWITCH–
NO, CAN’T SWITCH SIDES. ALL RIGHT, I’M NOT GOING
TO BE EITHER AS LONG OR PERHAPS AS VERBOSE, IF THAT’S
WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT. AND I COME TO THIS
DISCUSSION FROM A PERSPECTIVE OF A COURT SYSTEM
AS WELL AS FROM AN ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH
VIEWPOINT. AND FROM A COURT SYSTEM, I’M
NOT DEALING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RIGHT NOW COMMITTING
IT AND IT JUST HAPPENED, AND HAVING TO DEAL
WITH PREVENTING IT. YOU’RE TRYING TO
FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO WITH THE PERSON
WHO DID IT, OR HOW DO YOU WORK WITH A VICTIM
WHO’S BEEN THROUGH THAT AND HAS EXPERIENCED THAT, AND YOU DON’T WANT THAT
VICTIMIZATION TO SCAR THEM FOR THE REST
OF THEIR LIVES. YOU KNOW, WHEN
YOU LOOK IN TERMS OF
A LOT OF THE PERPETRATORS THAT WE END UP WITH
IN A COURT SYSTEM, YOU’RE LOOKING AT A
LOT OF SUBSTANCE USE, A LOT OF MENTAL HEALTH. THAT’S BEEN A BIG DISCUSSION
IN OUR OFFICE LATELY, HAS BEEN, “HOW CAN YOU DEAL
WITH THAT?” AND “WHAT CAN YOU
DO TO PREVENT IT?” AND WOULD WORKING WITH THOSE
AREAS ACTUALLY PREVENT IT? SO, WHEN YOU LOOK IN TERMS
OF AMPHETAMINE ABUSE, COCAINE ABUSE, METHAMPHETAMINES,
STIMULANT DRUGS– THOSE BRING A VIOLENCE WITH
THEM THAT HEROIN NEVER DID. I REMEMBER– AND I WORKED IN
THE COURT SYSTEM IN THE ’80s– YOU KNOW, YOU GIVE
SOMEONE HEROIN, AND THEY GO NOD OUT
IN THE ALLEY AND THEY REALLY
DON’T BOTHER ANYBODY, OTHER THAN PERHAPS TO
GET THEIR NEXT FIX. WHEN YOU LOOK IN TERMS OF THE
COCAINE AND METHAMPHETAMINE, YOU’RE LOOKING A LOT OF
AGGRESSIVENESS AND VIOLENCE THAT JUST BEGETS VIOLENCE. AND IF I GROW UP IN
THAT KIND OF ATMOSPHERE, I’M SET UP KIND OF
TO BECOME THAT. SO, PART OF WHAT WE HAVE TO
LOOK AT IS WHEN YOU GET THAT PERPETRATOR AND YOU
GET THAT VICTIM, HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS
NOT HAPPEN AGAIN? SEE, I TOOK HALF THE TIME, HUH?
(laughing)>>AND I’LL
TAKE EVEN LESS. JUST LOOKING AT IT FROM
THE CORRECTIONS VIEWPOINT, WORKING INSIDE THE JAIL AND
HOW IT ACTUALLY IMPACTS ME PROFESSIONALLY
WORKING IN THE JAIL, YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE LEVEL
OF OVER-CROWDEDNESS– AS JOHN SAID 11 HOMICIDES
IN A MONTH, AND WHEN THEY’RE
ARRESTING SUSPECTS AND THEY PUT THESE SUBPOENAS ON
PEOPLE THAT DON’T WANT TO TALK THAT ACTUALLY
KNOW INFORMATION, THEY HAVE COME TO JAIL. SO, YOU HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT
PROTECTING THESE PEOPLE– BECAUSE A LOT OF IT
IS GANG VIOLENCE, SO YOU HAVE TO WORRY
ABOUT PROTECTION, KEEPING THEM AWAY
FROM THOSE THAT MIGHT
BE IN AN OPPOSITE GANG, KEEPING THEM AWAY
FROM FAMILY THAT THEY
MAY HAVE CAUSED HARM TO, AND THOSE
TYPES OF THINGS. SO, WORKING INSIDE THE JAIL
AND DEALING WITH CORRECTIONS, YOU HAVE TO JUST DEAL WITH THE
ASPECTS OF THESE– THEY’RE KIDS, THEY’RE YOUNG TYPICALLY, THEY’VE NEVER BEEN
INCARCERATED AROUND ADULTS, THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH RIVAL
GANG MEMBERS OR FAMILY MEMBERS AND THINGS LIKE THAT. EVEN PIGGYBACKING TO THIS
STORY THAT JOHN GAVE ABOUT THE KID
THAT WAS SHOT… IT’S HARD, BECAUSE HIS
MOTHER WAS INCARCERATED. SO, JUST IMAGINE HEARING
THAT YOUR SON WAS SHOT AND YOU’RE INCARCERATED
AND THERE’S NOTHING
YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. SO, YOU DEAL WITH
THINGS LIKE THAT, AND IT’S KIND OF HARD TO
MAINTAIN THAT BALANCE OF TRYING TO PROTECT AND
BE THERE FOR THAT PERSON OR HELP THEM OUT
AS BEST AS YOU CAN WHEN SOMEONE GETS
NEWS LIKE THAT, THAT THEIR FAMILY
HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN
SOME TRAUMATIC EVENT.>>JOHN MOST CERTAINLY
SPOKE FOR ALL OF US, BUT I’D LIKE TO SAY
I WANT TO SEE A PROGRAM– A PRISONER
REENTRY PROGRAM. SO, EVERY INDIVIDUAL– MALE
AND FEMALE– IN OUR PROGRAM, THEY HAVE EXITED MICHIGAN’S
PRISON SYSTEM AND THEY’RE PAROLED
BACK HERE TO GRAND RAPIDS, SO THE IMPACT THAT
THIS VIOLENCE HAS ON US IS THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS SOMEONE
OR THEY’RE RELATED TO SOMEONE OR SOMETHING
ALONG THOSE LINES, SO WHEN WE HEAR OF
INCIDENTS RIGHT AWAY, WE LOOK FIRST OF ALL TO SEE
WHAT THEIR LAST NAME IS TO SEE IF IT’S ANY
CORRELATION AT ALL. AND MANY, MANY TIMES,
I RECEIVE CALLS IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AND I GET UP AND LOGIN
AND LOOK THROUGH OUR SYSTEM TO SEE IF THIS QUOTE-UNQUOTE
IS “ONE OF OURS,” BECAUSE IT HAS THAT
STIGMA ATTACHED TO IT. BECAUSE MOST OF THE MEN AND
WOMEN WE PROVIDE SERVICES TO, THEY’VE BEEN ENGAGED AT SOME
LEVEL WITH SOME TYPE OF VIOLENCE BECAUSE IT’S WHAT SENT THEM TO
THE PRISON SYSTEM TO BEGIN WITH. SO, EVERYONE THAT WE SERVE–
EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER OR CLIENT THAT WE HAVE,
THEY’VE BEEN TO PRISON. SO IT’S JUST AN
EXTENSION OF WHAT WE DO. AND WE BASICALLY HELP
THEM REBUILD THEIR LIVES, AND YOU’LL HEAR A LOT
ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, AND IT’S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT
PINE REST RECEIVED A CONTRACT FROM THE DEPARTMENT
OF CORRECTIONS BECAUSE OUR CORE COMPETENCY
IS MENTAL HEALTH, AND WE KNOW THROUGH
STATISTICS THAT ABOUT 90– OVER 90 PERCENT
OF THE INDIVIDUALS THAT
ENTER THE PRISON SYSTEM TO BEGIN WITH OR ARE
INVOLVED WITH GUN VIOLENCE HAVE SOME FORM
OF MENTAL ILLNESS IT MAY HAVE NOT YET
BEEN DIAGNOSED. SO, I’M EXCITED AND I’M WAITING
TO HEAR THE NEXT QUESTION. (audience chuckling)
>>WELL, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, I’M A CONTEMPORARY OF JOHN,
IN THAT I’VE BEEN PRACTICING FOR 18 YEARS AND I’VE
BEEN DOING CRIMINAL DEFENSE AT THE DEFENDER’S OFFICE
FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS, AND ONE OF THE COMMENTS FROM MY
PERSPECTIVE AS FAR AS HOW THIS HAS IMPACTED ME, OVER THE
DURATION OF MY CAREER, THERE HAVE BEEN ON
MY PART A DESENSITIZATION– I’VE BEEN DESENSITIZED
TO THE TYPE OF ACTIVITY, BECAUSE YOU SEE IT ON
SUCH A DAILY BASIS. AND WHILE MY COLLEAGUES
WERE TALKING HERE, I WAS TAKING A BIT
OF AN INVENTORY AND
STARTING FEBRUARY 25 THROUGH THE END OF JUNE,
I HAVE SEVEN TRIALS SCHEDULED. THESE ARE FELONY TRIALS. OF THOSE SEVEN, FIVE INVOLVE
CRIMES OF VIOLENCE, WHETHER IT’S THIRD OFFENSE
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, WHETHER IT’S A FELONIOUS
ASSAULT WHERE SOMEONE WAS EITHER THREATENED
WITH A WEAPON OR THEY WERE ACTUALLY
TOUCHED BY THAT WEAPON, TO TWO ARMED
ROBBERY CASES. I JUST FINISHED AN ARMED
ROBBERY TRIAL LAST WEEK WHERE AN INDIVIDUAL
WAS SHOT IN THE LEG. AND WHAT YOU SEE– OR AT
LEAST WHAT I HAVE SEEN, HOW HAS THIS IMPACTED
MY BUSINESS, FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD,
WE ARE RELATIVELY BUSY. AND THE TYPES OF CRIMES
THAT WE’RE SEEING GO BEYOND
OR HAVE GONE BEYOND JUST THE MERE ASSAULT
WHERE IT’S DONE WITH WORDS OR THERE IS SOME THREAT OF
VIOLENCE TO ACTUAL STABBINGS AND SHOOTINGS, SO THEY’VE
TAKEN ONE EXTRA STEP. AND THE UNFORTUNATE THING
THAT I’VE SEEN IS THAT
THE VAST MAJORITY– NOW, I DON’T HAVE
STATISTICS FOR YOU, IT’S MERELY JUST ON EXPERIENCE
AND RECOLLECTION– THE VAST MAJORITY INVOLVE YOUNG
INDIVIDUALS AND FIREARMS. AND MOST OF THESE FIREARMS
WERE NOT LEGALLY GAINED, MOST OF THESE FIREARMS
WERE SOLD ON THE STREET, HAVING BEEN STOLEN AT
SOME POINT IN TIME, AND IT’S RATHER IRONIC
THE NUMBER OF WEAPONS INVOLVED IN
MULTIPLE OFFENSES. IN ESSENCE, THEY’RE PASSED
AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD. SO IT’S CONCERNING WHEN
YOU SEE THIS TYPE OF ACTIVITY, ESPECIALLY AT YOUNG FOLKS. I MEAN, WE’RE TALKING
INDIVIDUALS FROM AS YOUNG AS– NOW, I DON’T DEAL WITH THEM
DIRECTLY UNLESS THEY’RE WAVED UP FROM JUVENILE COURT, BUT WE’VE
HAD INDIVIDUALS IN THE OFFICE AS YOUNG AS 14 AND 15 WHO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED
IN SERIOUS SHOOTINGS, UP TO INCLUDING HOMICIDES. OF THESE INDIVIDUALS THAT
I REFERRED TO SET FOR TRIAL, OVER HALF OF THEM ARE BETWEEN
18 AND 22 YEARS OF AGE. WE’LL GET INTO SOME
QUESTIONS OF WHY THIS IS, AND AT LEAST MY OPINION AS TO
WHY THIS IS, BUT OBVIOUSLY, IT IS CONCERNING. AS WELL IT SHOULD BE. EVEN THOUGH I COME
FROM A STANDPOINT OF
“I AM DESENSITIZED” IN THAT I FOCUS ON
THE ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME, AS WELL AS THE FACTS
SURROUNDING IT, WE CAN’T ALLOW OURSELVES
TO BECOME COMPLACENT. AND AGAIN, AS JOHN
INDICATED, IT IS CYCLICAL. ONE YEAR WITH ALL THE NATIONAL
HOMICIDES THAT TOOK PLACE, SUDDENLY IT’S AN ISSUE. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE 11 PEOPLE
THAT WERE MURDERED IN GRAND RAPIDS
JUST LAST YEAR? IF YOU LOOK AT
A NATIONAL LEVEL… IT SEEMS TO BE THAT UNTIL
IT’S A MASS SHOOTING, IT’S NOT A CONCERN. BUT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT
DIE EVERY DAY AS A RESULT OF VIOLENCE,
IT’S STAGGERING.>>I JUST WANT TO SHARE A STORY
TO LET YOU ALL UNDERSTAND WHERE I’M COMING FROM, BECAUSE
AS PROFESSOR EBELS STATED THAT I AM A JUVENILE
COMMUNITY PROBATION OFFICER, SO I WORK RIGHT IN THE LINE
OF FIRE EVERY SINGLE DAY. A FEW YEARS AGO– I WOULD SAY
ABOUT FIVE OR SIX YEARS AGO, I HAD YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WERE
BEING MURDERED ON MY CASELOAD. SOME OF THESE CASES
ARE STILL COLD CASES, OPEN AND UNDER INVESTIGATION, OTHERS THE PERPETRATORS
HAVE BEEN HELD ACCOUNTABLE. BUT I WENT TO FUNERALS OF AT
LEAST FOUR OR FIVE TIMES A MONTH BECAUSE OF THE INDIVIDUALS
WHO WERE ON MY CASELOAD– THE FAMILIES THAT I WORKED
WITH WERE MURDERED. ONE PARTICULAR UNIQUE CASE
WAS ONE OF MY YOUNG MEN HAD JUST GRADUATED FROM AN
ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL IN WYOMING, AND HAD PLANS ON ATTENDING
GRAND RAPIDS COMMUNITY COLLEGE. I MADE IT MY BUSINESS TO MAKE
SURE THAT HE WAS TO ATTEND, HELPED HIM WITH
HIS CAP AND GOWN, PROVIDED MONEY FOR THAT BECAUSE
HIS FAMILY DID NOT HAVE THE NECESSARY FUNDS. ALSO, WE HAD
A SCHOOL DATE WHERE WE CAME TO THE
GRAND RAPIDS COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND I SHOWED HIM
AROUND A LITTLE BIT, EXPLAINED TO HIM HOW HE’D
GET HIS STUDENT I.D. NUMBER, ALL THE INFORMATION
THAT HE WOULD NEED
TO BEGIN TAKING CLASSES. WITHIN A FEW MONTHS
AFTER GRADUATION, HE WAS KILLED OR MURDERED IN
FRONT OF MY COMMUNITY OFFICE… LATE OCTOBER
OR NOVEMBER. THAT WAS DEVASTATING TO ME,
SO AS FAR AS DESENSITIZING IN THE LINE OF WORK THAT
I DO IS DIFFICULT FOR ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL TO BE
SENSITIZED TO WHAT
IS GOING ON AROUND ME, BECAUSE I LIVE IN IT,
I WORK IN IT EVERY SINGLE DAY. I AM PART OF THESE INDIVIDUAL’S,
THEIR FAMILIES’ LIVES, NOT JUST AT WORK BUT ALSO
WHEN I’M OUT IN THE COMMUNITY IN THE CHURCHES,
THE NEIGHBORHOODS. I GO TO THE SAME STORES,
MOVIES, WHEREVER– I’M THERE. SO, THE PASSION
IS VERY DEEP. I’VE BEEN WORKING IN THE
FIELD FOR ALMOST 17 YEARS, AND I THINK THE DAY
THAT I BECOME DESENSITIZED
OR COMPLACENT, AND I THINK IT’S TIME
FOR ME TO LEAVE. BUT TO GET BACK TO THAT
STORY, THE YOUNG MAN– OR THE ALLEGED SHOOTER WAS
ON MY CASELOAD AT THE TIME. SO, THAT WAS VERY
DIFFICULT FOR ME. HERE I HAVE A YOUNG
MAN WHO WAS MURDERED, AND THEN I ALSO HAVE
THE ALLEGED PERPETRATOR THAT IS ON MY CASELOAD. SO, HOW DO YOU DEAL
WITH THAT? SO, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT HOW
IT AFFECTS ME PROFESSIONALLY, IT ALSO AFFECTS ME PERSONALLY,
MENTALLY, AND EMOTIONALLY. SO, I SIT AT THE FUNERAL
THINKING ABOUT THIS
PARTICULAR PERSON WHO THEY HAVE NAMED AS A SUSPECT
FOR MY YOUNG MAN’S MURDER. JUST TO SPEED IT UP,
THIS YEAR– I WOULD SAY IN
THE LAST COUPLE YEARS, I HAVEN’T HAD A LOT
OF MY YOUNG MEN MURDERED. HOWEVER, I’VE HAD
A LOT OF THEM ENTER INTO
OUR CORRECTIONAL SYSTEM, WHICH THEY ARE NOW DOING
BETWEEN FOUR YEARS MINIMUM TO 25 YEARS OR LIFE. AND SO, I’VE SEEN A LOT
OF MY YOUNG INDIVIDUALS
WHO ARE 14, 15– MANY OF THEM HAVE BEEN
WAIVED TO THE ADULT SYSTEM AND ARE NOW LOOKING
AT TIME IN PRISON. THE YOUNGEST ONE THAT
I’VE HAD– JUST RECENTLY– HE WAS JUST SENTENCED YESTERDAY,
AS A MATTER OF FACT… WAS SHOT IN THE FACE AT 14, AND
THEN WITHIN TWO MONTHS WENT OUT AND RECEIVED AN ARMED
ROBBERY– I’M SORRY, PULLED A GUN OUT ON SOMEONE,
AND DIDN’T SHOOT THEM, BUT ROBBED THEM. SHORTLY AFTER THAT, HE
WAS PLACED ON PROBATION ON JUVENILE PROBATION,
HAD DIFFICULTIES WITH HIM IN THE COMMUNITY, REMOVED
HIM FROM THE COMMUNITY FOR ABOUT 10 OR 11 MONTHS, RETURNED BACK
TO GRAND RAPIDS– THE GRAND RAPIDS AREA
LAST YEAR, IN OCTOBER. WITHIN SIX DAYS, HE WAS
ABLE TO OBTAIN A GUN AND ROB SOMEONE ELSE. IT WAS ON THE NEWS. HE EVENTUALLY PLED
GUILTY TO ARMED ROBBERY. HE WAS WAIVED AS AN ADULT–
HE WAS 15 AT THE TIME LAST YEAR. HE WAS 15, WAS
WAIVED AS AN ADULT, AND WAS AWAITING
SENTENCING– WHICH I BELIEVE HE WAS
SENTENCED YESTERDAY TO AT LEAST 8 TO 15
YEARS IN PRISON. HE’S 16 YEARS OLD. SO, HOW DOES IT REALLY
AFFECT ME PROFESSIONALLY? AS I SAID, I WORK OUT IN
THE COMMUNITY EVERY SINGLE DAY. MY MAIN CONTACT AREA IS
MARTIN LUTHER KING AREA. WE’RE ASSIGNED TO CERTAIN
SIDES OF THE GRAND RAPIDS. AND SO, PART OF MY–
OR MY EXPECTATIONS
AS A PROBATION OFFICER IS TO MEET WITH THESE YOUNG
PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES IN THEIR HOMES. SO, SAFETY IS A MAJOR
CONCERN NOT ONLY FOR ME, BUT ALSO FOR THE FAMILIES
THAT I’M WORKING WITH. I DO NOT CARRY A GUN,
I DO NOT CARRY PEPPER SPRAY, NOR DO I CARRY
A BULLETPROOF VEST. I DON’T HAVE
ANYTHING BUT MYSELF. I ALWAYS TELL THE STUDENTS,
“I HAVE MY LEFT HAND,” BECAUSE I’M LEFT-HANDED, SO
IF SOMEBODY ATTEMPTS TO HURT ME, THE ONLY THING I CAN DO
IS THROW THAT LAST HOOK AND FOLLOW IT UP
WITH MY RIGHT… (audience laughing)
SO, THAT’S ALL THAT I HAVE. BUT REALLY, WHAT I HAVE IS
A RELATIONSHIP THAT I HAVE WITH THESE YOUNG PEOPLE. THAT’S ALL THAT I HAVE
IS THE RELATIONSHIP, AND I THINK THAT’S
WHAT’S VERY IMPORTANT. THAT’S HOW I AM VERY SUCCESSFUL
IN THE WORK THAT I DO, AND WHAT I THINK THAT
NEEDS TO HAPPEN IS WE NEED TO START REBUILDING THOSE
RELATIONSHIPS ALL OVER AGAIN. I DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO
A LOT OF COMMUNITY CENTERS– I MEAN, THE COMMUNITY CENTER
THAT I WORK AT, IT IS AN AREA WHERE GANG
VIOLENCE IS VERY PREVALENT. MARTIN LUTHER KING AREA IS WHERE
A PARTICULAR GANG CALLED “BEMIS” IS WHERE– THAT’S THEIR
HANGOUT, THAT’S THEIR TERRITORY. AND SO, FAMILIES ARE AFRAID
TO COME TO MY OFFICE BECAUSE THEY MAY HAVE SOME TYPE
OF CONFLICT WITH THE DIFFERENT– WITH A PARTICULAR GANG. AND SO, AGAIN, ALL I HAVE IS
MY RELATIONSHIP AND MY SKILLS– MY SOCIAL SKILLS
THAT I’VE ACQUIRED– TO USE TO PROTECT MYSELF
AND TO PROTECT THEM. IN MY NINE YEARS OF WORKING
OUT IN THE COMMUNITY, I HAVE NOT HAD NOT ONE
GANG MEMBER OR GANG FIGHT AT MY COMMUNITY OFFICE,
AND I THINK THAT SAYS A LOT. I’M NOT HERE TO BOAST– I’M A
VERY HUMBLE PERSON, BUT AGAIN, I THINK THAT A LOT OF IT
HAS TO DO WITH US BUILDING THOSE RELATIONSHIPS
THAT HAVE BEEN BROKEN DOWN NOT ONLY JUST FROM PARENTS,
LAW ENFORCEMENT, BUT EVEN OUR COMMUNITY, LACK OF EDUCATION,
ALL OF THE ABOVE. SO, THOSE ARE SOME
OF MY CONCERNS. IT HAS BEEN ADDRESSED SINCE THE
RECENT SHOOTINGS AND VIOLENCE IN GRAND RAPIDS–
OUR SUPERVISORS HAVE
DISCUSSED WITH US ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT WE
PRACTICE SAFETY MEASURES IF IT INVOLVES TAKING
ANOTHER COWORKER WITH US OR SURVEILLANCE OFFICER OR EVEN CONTACTING
OUR COMMUNITY OFFICER. I AM ASSIGNED TO
A COMMUNITY OFFICER. THE ONLY THING WITH THAT
IS THAT THE COMMUNITY OFFICER THAT I’M ASSIGNED
TO DOES NOT ALWAYS– IS NOT ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE
BECAUSE MY HOME VISITS AND MY OFFICE VISITS ARE
CONDUCTED DURING THE EVENINGS, AND HE IS NOT WORKING
DURING THE EVENINGS. I DO HAVE ACCESS
TO CALL THE POLICE. HOWEVER, SOMETIMES IT
MAKES IT DIFFICULT, IF THEY’RE OUT PATROLLING OTHER
AREAS TO HAVE THEM COME OUT AND SIT WITH ME AND MONITOR
TO MAKE SURE THAT I’M SAFE. SO, THERE ARE A LOT OF SAFETY
ISSUES THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THE LINE OF WORK
THAT I DO, BUT I’M CONFIDENT
THAT IF WE CONTINUE TO
HAVE MEETINGS LIKE THIS AND WE BEGIN
TO WORK TOGETHER, THAT WE WILL BE ABLE
TO CURVE THE VIOLENCE. THANK YOU.
>>THANKS, LYNNELL. I ALWAYS SAID THAT WE LIVE
IN ONE OF THE SMALLEST
BIG CITIES IN MICHIGAN, AND THE REASON
I SAY THAT IS THAT THERE
IS ALMOST NEVER AN EVENT THAT GOES ON
THAT’S NEWSWORTHY, THAT’S LOCAL, THAT I DON’T
GO INTO ONE OF MY CLASSES DURING THE NEXT WEEK OR
IN THE NEXT TIME WE MEET THAT SOMEONE
IN THE CLASS SAYS, “DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THAT?” AND WE GO, “YES.” AND THEY GO, “WELL, THAT WAS A
RELATIVE, THAT WAS NEXT DOOR, “THAT WAS AT MY HOUSE,
I KNEW THAT PERSON.” I HAD A STUDENT IN MY CLASS
ABOUT A YEAR AGO WHO WAS ACTUALLY
THE VICTIM. HE GOT SHOT IN THE HEAD. HE WAS THERE ONE DAY,
THE NEXT DAY HE WASN’T THERE, AND I GOT A CALL THAT HE WAS IN
INTENSIVE CARE AT THE HOSPITAL. HE GOT SHOT
IN THE HEAD. HE SURVIVED– NO ONE
EXPECTED HIM TO DO THAT. BUT THIS ALL HITS CLOSE TO HOME,
AND SO, WHAT WE WANT TO DO IS WE FOUND OUT THE PROFESSIONAL,
BUT NOW THE SAME QUESTION IS WHAT ABOUT
THE STAKEHOLDERS? AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW
WHAT THAT BUZZWORD IS, THAT BIG WORD IS,
YOU’RE THE STAKEHOLDERS. YOU LIVE HERE, YOU GO TO
SCHOOL HERE IN WEST MICHIGAN, YOU KNOW PEOPLE. AND SO, WE’RE LOOKING FOR
A FEW OF YOU TO TELL US HOW YOU THINK THAT THIS TYPE
OF THING HAS IMPACTED YOU, EITHER INDIRECTLY
OR DIRECTLY. AND IF YOU HAVE
SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE, WE’RE LOOKING FOR SEVERAL
OF YOU TO DO THAT. JUST RAISE YOUR HAND AND
WE’LL COME OVER AND SEE YOU, SO EVERYBODY CAN HEAR. ANYONE– THERE’S
A HAND AT THE BACK.>>AS YOU ARE ALL
ANSWERING THE QUESTION, WE WOULD ASK THAT YOU STAND
AND STATE YOUR NAME.>>MY NAME IS RAY ERICKSON,
I’M OBVIOUSLY A RECRUIT FOR THE GRCC
POLICE ACADEMY. THANK YOU EVERYBODY
FOR SITTING ON THE PANEL–
I APPRECIATE IT. I THINK I CAN SPEAK
FOR EVERYONE THAT WAY. MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH
VIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNITY. I LIVE IN KENTWOOD, AND
LITERALLY TWO BLOCKS AWAY FROM WHERE THERE WAS A FAMILY
WHOSE HOUSE WAS BROKEN INTO, CAR WAS STOLEN, THEY WERE SHOT,
THE CAR WAS FOUND BURNING AND BURNED
SOMEPLACE ELSE. NOW THAT I’M HERE AT
NIGHT FOUR DAYS A WEEK, MY WIFE DOESN’T
SLEEP WELL. SO, THAT IMPACTS ME BECAUSE
HERE I AM TRYING TO LEARN TO PROTECT
THE REST OF US, AND I CAN’T EVEN
PROTECT MY OWN WIFE BECAUSE SHE’S AFRAID THE HOUSE
IS GOING TO GET BROKEN INTO, AND NOW I’M LOOKING
AT BUYING A NEW DOG. (audience laughing)
>>THANK YOU.>>ANYBODY ELSE?>>THERE WAS ANOTHER ACADEMY
STUDENT BACK THERE WHO RAISED HIS HAND,
TOO, I THINK. SEE, WHEN WE TOLD YOU
YOU HAD TO STAND UP, YOU DIDN’T WANT
TO DO THIS. (audience laughing)
>>GOOD EVENING, MY NAME IS FELIX TORRES. I’M AN ACADEMY
STUDENT AS WELL. I THINK VIOLENCE IN THE
COMMUNITY HAS IMPACTED
MOSTLY EVERYONE IN HERE, EVEN IF YOU’RE LIVING
IN THE COMMUNITY, IT MAKES A FEARFUL
TO WALK OUTSIDE. I WOULD LIKE TO MENTION THAT
THE OFFICER HAD A GOOD POINT. DESPITE PEOPLE WANTING TO SAY
THE FACT THAT THE MEDIA IS NOT REALLY INVOLVED,
I THINK IT IS. THEY ACCENTUATE OR
SENSUALIZE A LOT OF THAT
VIOLENCE ON THE STREET, WHICH MAKES A LOT OF OUR YOUTH
THINK THAT IT’S OKAY TO DO STUFF LIKE THAT. TO JUST MAKE IT SO PREVALENT, SO
OBVIOUS EVERY DAY, OF VIOLENCE. VIDEO GAMES AND
STUFF LIKE THAT– THAT’S NEITHER
HERE NOR THERE, BUT I THINK THAT THE MEDIA
ITSELF GIVES PEOPLE
A LOT OF TALK ABOUT, AND I THINK THAT THAT
TRICKLES DOWN TO OUR KIDS. THE COMMUNITY IS
IMPACTED THE MOST, BECAUSE OF THEY FEAR
GOING INTO GRAND RAPIDS, OR SOME PEOPLE DON’T
WANT TO GO TO WORK, OR SOME PEOPLE
ARE JUST AFRAID. SO, TO ME, THAT’S
JUST IMPACTED ME AND IMPACTED A LOT
OF PEOPLE. SO HOPEFULLY, IF THIS
STUFF KEEPS HAPPENING, WE CAN GET TOGETHER AS PEOPLE
AND TALK TO OUR KIDS, TALK TO OUR YOUTH,
IMPACT THEM IN CERTAIN WAYS, MAYBE BE
MORE INVOLVED. I THINK THAT WILL
HELP A LITTLE BIT.>>HELLO. CLOSE LIKE THIS? OKAY, MY NAME
IS JULIE CURTIS. FIRST AND FOREMOST, I’M
A COMMUNITY MEMBER NOW HERE IN GRAND RAPIDS. I’VE LIVED HERE
FOR A YEAR. YES, I LOVE IT. I’M ALSO A SENIOR
AT FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROGRAM, AND I GUESS HOW IT’S
AFFECTED ME PERSONALLY IS WHEN I MOVED
TO THIS CITY, I MOVED FROM THE EAST
SIDE OF THE STATE– FROM THE DETROIT AREA. AND I THOUGHT COMING HERE
WAS GOING TO BE FANTASTIC BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT? GRAND RAPIDS HAS
A BEAUTIFUL REPUTATION, AND IT IS A BEAUTIFUL CITY. I LIVE IN THE CRESTON AREA. I LOVE THAT COMMUNITY. I WAS OUT WALKING MY DOG IN
THE NIGHT THAT THE YOUNG MAN WAS KILLED
ON SWEET STREET. I WAS ONE BLOCK
FROM THAT SHOOTING. MY PARTNER DOESN’T WANT ME
TO WALK THE DOG ANYMORE. AND LIKE YOU, SIR, YOU’RE GOING
TO SCHOOL FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE– YOU’RE AN OFFICER, AND
YOUR WIFE IS SCARED. YOU KNOW, WE’RE LEARNING WHAT
TO DO TO HELP PREVENT THIS BUT AT THE SAME TIME,
WE’RE HELPLESS, AND IT’S A FEELING
IN THE COMMUNITY THAT WE WANT TO DO MORE,
WE WANT TO BE INVOLVED, WE’RE ALL HERE IN OUR
COMMUNITY SETTING, BUT WHAT IS IT THAT
WE CAN DO AS STUDENTS, I GUESS IS WHAT MY
QUESTION IS TO THE PANEL. IF I CAN ASK
A QUESTION. IS THAT OKAY?
(audience laughing)>>WILL GET THERE– WE HAVE
TWO QUESTIONS AFTER THIS, AND THEN WE’LL GIVE YOU
SOME SOLUTIONS.>>HI, MY SON AND I WITNESSED
A YOUNG BOY THAT GOT SHOT OVER ON EASTERN, AND THE THING THAT
STARTLED ME MOST WAS THE FACT THAT
EVERYBODY WAS DRIVING BY. NOBODY STOPPED. THERE WERE FOUR KIDS
BENT OVER THIS BOY, AND THE KIDS WERE CALLING
THE POLICE AND I NOTICED THAT. I WAS LIKE,
“EVERYBODY’S PASSING BY.” NO ADULTS STOPPED TO HELP
THESE CHILDREN SAVE THIS BOY. AND MY SON AND I PULLED UP
THERE AND THEN WE NOTICED THAT THE POLICE
WERE COMING, BUT IT STARTLED ME THAT THESE
KIDS WERE IN THIS MUCH TROUBLE AND THEY WERE TRYING
TO HELP EACH OTHER AND NO ADULTS
WOULD COME. THE ONES THAT COME OUT OF
THE GAS STATION WERE SMILING. WHY WERE THEY SMILING? A BOY HAD JUST GOTTEN SHOT
AND THEY WERE SMILING. IT’S CRAZY. WE NEED TO BE MORE CONCERNED
ABOUT OUR CHILDREN.>>HELLO, EVERYBODY. MY NAME IS BRIAN BLAKELY,
AND I’M A LOCAL PASTOR AND I’M ALSO A DIRECTOR OF
A COMMUNITY-BASED NONPROFIT. AND I SEE THESE THINGS
ON A DAILY BASIS. I LIVE RIGHT IN THE HEART OF
THE CITY– I’M ON BATES STREET, CLOSE TO FRANKLIN
AND EASTERN, AND I SEE THE IMPACT
OF THE VIOLENCE. PEOPLE ARE FEARFUL,
PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, PEOPLE ARE FEELING
HOPELESS, PEOPLE– THERE’S A LACK
OF RESOURCES, LACK OF EDUCATION,
LACK OF FINANCES, AND IT CREATES
HOPELESSNESS. AND WHAT I’M SEEING ON A DAILY
BASIS IS THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO INSTEAD
OF BEING FEARFUL, THEY HAVE TO
COME TOGETHER, THEY HAVE
TO BOND TOGETHER BECAUSE THERE’S A LOT OF
GOOD PEOPLE IN GRAND RAPIDS. AND WE HAVE JUST A FEW OCCASIONS
WHERE WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO DO SOME BAD THINGS AND IT
GIVES EVERYBODY ELSE A BAD NAME, THEY GET FEARFUL, AND THEY FEEL LIKE IF
THEY STICK THEIR HEAD UP, THAT THEY’RE GOING
TO BE TARGETED. BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAS
IMPACTED ME IN MY ORGANIZATION WITH THE VIOLENCE
IS ROUNDING PEOPLE UP AND BRINGING
PEOPLE TOGETHER, SO THAT WE CAN COMBAT THESE
SENSELESS ACTS OF VIOLENCE AS A JOINT FORCE TOGETHER,
AND IF WE DO THAT TOGETHER, A LOT OF THESE
THINGS WON’T HAPPEN. IF WE TAKE OWNERSHIP
IN OUR COMMUNITIES, A LOT OF THESE THINGS WILL
NOT BE ABLE TO HAPPEN.>>GOOD MORNING–
ER, GOOD EVENING, MY NAME IS CHRIS WARFELON. I’M GOING HERE IN
THE CORRECTIONS PROGRAM, AND THE WAY ALL THIS VIOLENCE
HAS IMPACTED ME– LIKE, I GREW UP IN KENTWOOD
AND I NEVER REALLY– I’D LIKE WALK TO A FRIEND’S HOUSE
A COUPLE MILES, NEVER REALLY ANYTHING
TO WORRY ABOUT, BUT RECENTLY I MOVED
OFF OF KALAMAZOO AVENUE
DOWN BY BOSTON SQUARE, AND I’VE CAUGHT KIDS TRYING TO
BREAK INTO THE HOUSE NEXT TO ME. HECK, THE DAY I MOVED IN, I HEARD A BUNCH OF GUNSHOTS
FIRED WITHIN DISTANCE, AND THEY EVEN CLOSED
DOWN THAT STREET– IT WAS ELLIOTT STREET
RIGHT OFF OF BURTON– AND AS A RESULT, I STILL
FEEL KINDA SAFE ONCE IN A WHILE, BUT OVERALL, I’M ACTUALLY
KIND OF PARANOID FOR MY SAFETY AND MY GIRLFRIEND’S SAFETY
BECAUSE I WORKED THIRD SHIFT, AND THAT LEAVES HER THERE ALL
ALONE, AND BLESS HER HEART, SHE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO
USE A WEAPON ALL TOO WELL, AND I USUALLY KEEP A RIFLE
NEXT TO MY BED AS A RESULT. LIKE, I’VE DEALT WITH A LOT
OF UNCERTAINTY AND STRESS WHEN I WAS OVER
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BUT NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD FEEL
A LOT OF THOSE SAME EMOTIONS LIVING HERE WHERE
I GREW UP AT, AND IT SHOULDN’T BE
LIKE THAT FOR ANYONE. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE
A WALK DOWN THE STREET, GO WALK YOUR DOG, SIT OUTSIDE
AND DRINK A GLASS OF LEMONADE OR BEER OR SOMETHING AND
NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYONE COMING AND TRYING TO
BREAK INTO YOUR HOUSE OR START ANYTHING
WITH YOU, AND IT’S COMPLETELY ASININE
HOW THINGS ARE PROGRESSIVELY GETTING WORSE OVER TIME.>>ANYBODY ELSE?
>>OVER HERE– (indistinct). (audience laughing)
THERE YOU GO, EXTRA CREDIT.>>HI, MY NAME’S RENÉE, AND I’M
IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE FIELD, HOPEFULLY IN WHAT MS. TOLBERT’S
PROFESSION– JUVENILE PROBATION. I LIVED IN THE NORTHWEST SIDE
OF GRAND RAPIDS FOR 10 YEARS, AND I WORKED AS… HOW DO YOU PUT IT? IT WAS LIKE A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
CAPTAIN FOR SIX OF THAT TEN, AND I THOUGHT THINGS
WERE GOING TO GET BETTER. THEY DIDN’T. THEY GOT WORSE. AND AS FIRMLY AS I AM
AND MY KIDS– I HAVE
THREE YOUNG CHILDREN, AND THERE COMES A TIME WHEN
YOU HAVE SO MUCH VIOLENCE GOING ON JUST WITHIN YOUR
VICINITY OF YOUR HOUSE, JUST IN ONE BLOCK,
YOU GOTTA TAKE A STEP BACK AND LOOK AT WHAT’S
MORE IMPORTANT. BECAUSE OF THE VIOLENCE THAT
WE HAD IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, THERE’S DRUGS ON THE SIDE OF OUR
HOUSE GOING ON– DRUGS DEALING– JUST– IT WAS JUST
A LOT OF THINGS THAT
SHOULDN’T HAVE OCCURRED, AND BECAUSE OF THAT,
I MOVED. THERE COMES A POINT WHEN YOUR
FAMILY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN– YOU KNOW, I LOST MY HOUSE
BECAUSE OF THIS VIOLENCE, AND WE GAVE UP. SO, YEAH, IT’S
IMPACTED ME A LOT. AND UNFORTUNATELY, I PROBABLY
WILL NEVER MOVE BACK TO GRAND RAPIDS,
UNFORTUNATELY, BUT I’M WILLING TO HELP
WITH TRYING TO SOLVE THIS VIOLENCE PROBLEM. BECAUSE NO MATTER WHERE YOU’RE
AT, THERE IS VIOLENCE ALL OVER, AND I THINK THAT REALLY
IMPACTS A LOT OF PEOPLE. THEY ARE AFRAID.>>HI, EVERYBODY, MY NAME
IS SEQUOIA HEDENELL. I CURRENTLY WORK IN THE FIELD
WITH JUVENILES, AND I’M SORRY, I DON’T WANT TO OFFEND ANYBODY,
BUT I JUST FEEL LIKE RIGHT NOW THE VIOLENCE WITH JUVENILES AND
EVERYTHING THAT’S GOING ON RIGHT NOW– THIS IS ABSOLUTELY
RIDICULOUS, AND I FEEL LIKE US, AS CRIMINAL JUSTICE MAJORS
AND BEING IN OUR FIELD, WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO
GET OUT OF THAT, “OH, I’M AFRAID AND I’M MOVING
AND I GOTTA GET AWAY,” BECAUSE LIKE YOU SAID,
VIOLENCE IS EVERYWHERE. IT’S NOT GOING TO GO ANYWHERE
UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. SO, US BEING IN THIS FIELD,
WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION AND NOT BE RUNNING AROUND AND
BEING AFRAID AND BE SAYING, “OH, “I’M GOING TO GO OVER HERE
AND MOVE TO KENTUCKY “BECAUSE THEY DON’T SHOOT
EVERYBODY UP DOWN THERE.” (audience chuckling)
WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING. SO, THAT’S IT.>>MY NAME IS MARIO, AND
I WAS BORN IN EL SALVADOR DURING THE CIVIL WAR, AND SO, VIOLENCE HAS BEEN PART
OF MY LIFE SINCE CHILDBIRTH. AND I GREW UP IN EAST L.A.,
TOO, SO I KNOW DIRECTLY OF THE CONSEQUENCES
OF VIOLENCE. I’VE SEEN MANY
OF MY FRIENDS THAT ARE NO
LONGER HERE BECAUSE OF IT, AND SO WHEN I MOVED
TO GRAND RAPIDS IN ’96, I STARTED SEEING THE SAME TRENDS
KIND OF– THE SAME THINGS THAT I STARTED SEEING
IN L.A. STARTED ALSO BEING
HERE IN GRAND RAPIDS. SO, I STARTED MENTORING AND
DID EVERYTHING THAT I COULD TO GET INVOLVED,
JUST LIKE SHE WAS SAYING. WE NEED TO GET INVOLVED BECAUSE
IF WE LET THE VIOLENCE DICTATE OUR LIVES– BECAUSE I COULD’VE
CHOSEN TO CONTINUE THE PATH OF VIOLENCE MYSELF, BUT I’D RATHER
BE THE ONE GETTING LIKE
WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT– BUILDING THAT RELATIONSHIP
WITH THESE YOUNG PEOPLE, BEING ABLE TO CONNECT
WHETHER THROUGH THE CHURCHES, THROUGH THE SCHOOLS– AND HERE, WE HAVE A GROUP OF
PEOPLE THAT SAY THESE MEETINGS ARE IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE MORE
YOU KNOW, THE BETTER YOU ARE, THE MORE YOU CAN REACH. AND WE HAVE– IN THE VIOLENCE
IS JUST A PINNACLE OF WHAT’S A DEEPER ISSUE, AND UNTIL WE GET TO CONNECT
WITH YOUNG PEOPLE, IT’S GONNA START
MAKING A DIFFERENCE. SO, CONNECT WITH
YOUNG PEOPLE. THANK YOU.>>HI, MY NAME
IS NICOLE. THERE’S A FEW THINGS–
I’M A STAY-AT-HOME MOM, AND I HAVE BEEN
FOR 10 YEARS. IN MY FORMER LIFE,
I WORKED IN PUBLIC HEALTH AND INJURY PREVENTION. BUT WHAT’S GOING ON IN
OUR NATION AND IN GRAND RAPIDS AFFECTED ME BECAUSE– I DON’T KNOW
WHO SAID “I DON’T WANT
TO BECOME COMPLACENT,” BUT I THINK THERE’S MANY
OF US WHO HAVE JUST SAID, “WELL, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS,”
WE WATCH THE NEWS, WE GRIEVE, WE PRAY, AND THEN WE
MOVE ON, AND THAT’S TERRIBLE. I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE
HAVE BECOME COMPLACENT, AND WHAT HAPPENED
NATIONALLY– SANDY HOOK. OBVIOUSLY, IT’S A VERY SMALL
FRACTION OF THE VIOLENCE, THE GUN VIOLENCE THAT
HAPPENS IN OUR COUNTRY, BUT I THINK IT WAS REALLY
A GALVANIZING MOMENT IN OUR COUNTRY. I THINK IT REALLY GOT A LOT
OF PEOPLE WHO USED TO SAY– OR MAYBE IT’S EASIER TO SAY,
“THAT’S NOT MY PROBLEM, “THAT’S NOT ME, IT’S NOT
HAPPEN,” IT HAPPENS. AND THEN, ONCE YOU HAVE
THAT MOMENT OF AWARENESS, I THINK YOU REALLY
LEARN EVERY DAY. I MEAN, THERE’S BEEN THOUSANDS
OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED SINCE SANDY HOOK, WHICH
WAS EIGHT WEEKS AGO. SO, I LOOKED INTO IT
AND I THOUGHT, “WELL, “HOW DO I GET INVOLVED? “WHAT CAN I OFFER
TO THIS DISCUSSION? “AND WHAT CAN I DO
TO HELP?” SO, I LOOKED INTO IT
AND I BECAME INVOLVED
WITH AN ORGANIZATION– IT’S A GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION
THAT KIND OF MODELED AFTER “MOTHERS AGAINST
DRUNK DRIVING” THAT’S CALLED “1 MILLION MOMS
FOR GUN CONTROL” THAT REALLY JUST ADDRESSES
THE SHEER VOLUME OF GUNS THAT ARE OUT THERE, AND THE EASE WITH WHICH
THEIR ABLE TO BE OBTAINED. OBVIOUSLY, THE NATIONAL DEBATE
IS AROUND BACKGROUND CHECKS, AND THERE’S ALL KINDS
OF OTHER ISSUES, BUT GUN VIOLENCE IS
A COMPLEX ISSUE… BUT I FEEL THAT IT’S IMPORTANT
THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US SPEAK UP AND FINALLY SAY, “WE’VE
ALL COLLECTIVELY HAD ENOUGH” AND “WHAT CAN I DO
TO HELP?” WHATEVER YOUR AT– MENTAL
HEALTH, CRIMINAL JUSTICE– WHATEVER YOUR
AREA OF EXPERTISE, OR HOWEVER YOU CAN
BECOME INVOLVED, I THINK IT’S SO IMPORTANT
THAT WE FINALLY ALL DO.>>YES, HELLO, MY NAME
IS LAMARRO STEVENS, AND I’M A CORRECTIONS STUDENT. BEFORE I GET STARTED, I’D
LIKE TO SAY, IN MY OPINION, GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE. BAD PEOPLE WITH
GUNS KILL PEOPLE. WE NEED MORE EDUCATION
ABOUT USE OF THEM. WHEN I GREW UP,
I WALKED A COUPLE MILES AS A FIVE AND
SIX-YEAR-OLD TO SCHOOL. AS A PARENT NOW, I TAKE
ALL MY KIDS TO SCHOOL. IT’S NOT THAT
I DON’T FEEL SAFE, BUT IT’S MORE PROACTIVE
AS FAR AS MY KIDS. I THINK IT’S MORE IN THE
COMMUNITY THAT WE NEED MEN TO TALK TO MEN. WE HAVE SINGLE PARENTS–
MOMS THAT IF THEY WORK, HAVE TWO OR THREE JOBS,
AND KIDS ARE RAISING KIDS. AND UNTIL KIDS GET
INTO THE SYSTEM, THEY DON’T REALIZE HOW SERIOUS
BEING BEHIND THESE BARS ARE. WE JUST NEED SOME– LIKE A LOT
OF THESE KIDS DON’T HAVE ANYONE THEY CAN TURN TO AND
SAY THEY RESPECT, THEY FEAR, THEY GIVE A CARE HOW
THEY FEEL ABOUT THEM. WE HAVE NO ONE– EVERYBODY’S
TOO BUSY IN THEIR OWN LIVES TO TEACH ONE,
REACH ONE. WE JUST NEED TO STOP FOR
A SECOND AND GRAB ONE. JUST ONE. IF YOU CAN GET ONE AND TURN
THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND THAT’S ONE YOU DON’T HAVE TO
WORRY ABOUT WHERE THEY’RE GOING. THAT’S ONE YOU DON’T HAVE
TO WORRY ABOUT IF THEY’RE
GOING TO STICK YOU UP. WE’RE JUST TOO BUSY– WE NEED TO TAKE TIME TO FOCUS
ON THE PEOPLE AROUND US.>>ANYONE ELSE? OKAY, TAKE
ANOTHER CHANCE– PANEL, DID YOU HAVE
ANY REACTIONS THAT
YOU WANT TO CAPTURE BEFORE MOVE ON? OR SHOULD WE
JUST MOVE ON? ANYONE?>>I THINK MANY OF YOU SAID THAT
WE HAVE BECOME ALL TOO TOLERANT OF THIS BEHAVIOR
IN OUR SOCIETY, THAT WE EXPECT IT
TO HAPPEN, AND AS THE YOUNG MAN
STATED IN THE BACK, I THINK IF WE BREAK THIS PROBLEM
DOWN TO ITS VERY SMALLEST PART– AND THAT IS JUST MENTORING
ONE YOUNG PERSON FOR ONE HALF HOUR A WEEK– IF YOU WANT TO BREAK
IT DOWN THAT SMALL, THINK OF THE IMPACT THAT
WE COULD HAVE IN OUR SOCIETY, IF ALL OF US COLLECTIVELY JUST
SPENT TIME WITH ONE YOUNG PERSON THAT IS AT RISK AND AFFECTED
THAT PERSON’S LIFE IN A MEANINGFUL MANNER, WE WOULD
HAVE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT, AND YOU CAN DO IT RIGHT HERE
IN THE CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS. THERE ARE PROGRAMS THAT ARE
AVAILABLE IN WHICH ANYBODY IN THIS ROOM COULD READ TO
A THIRD OR FOURTH GRADER, COULD MENTOR A SIXTH
OR SEVENTH GRADER, COULD PLAY SPORTS WITH
A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT– THAT LEVEL OF
IMPACT IS AMAZING IN THE LIVES OF THESE
YOUNG PEOPLE WHO, AS THIS YOUNG MAN
STATED IN THE BACK, MANY OF THEM COME FROM HOMES
IN WHICH THEY DON’T HAVE A LOT. THEIR PROSPECTS ARE
MINIMAL AT BEST. AND THEY JUST NEED SOMEBODY
THAT THEY LOOK UP TO, THAT THEY CAN RESPECT AND HAVE RESPECT FROM THEM
BACK AT THEM. YOU KNOW, TO USE THE TERM,
“IT TAKES A VILLAGE
TO RAISE A CHILD,” IT REALLY DOES, NO MATTER
WHERE YOU COME FROM. THERE IS STRUGGLE
ALL OVER OUR COUNTRY, AND STRUGGLE KNOWS NO CULTURAL
OR RACIAL OR ETHNIC BOUNDS. STRUGGLE IS EVERYWHERE. UNFORTUNATELY, WE SEE A LITTLE
BIT TOO MUCH OF IT HERE IN THE CORE CITY, AND THERE’S A LOT OF
GREAT PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING A LOT OF GREAT WORK. BUT UNFORTUNATELY, IN CERTAIN
SEGMENTS OF OUR SOCIETY, WE’VE JUST TOLERATED
THIS BEHAVIOR. DO YOU THINK THIS SHIT WOULD
HAPPEN IN EAST GRAND RAPIDS? ABSOLUTELY NOT. IN CALEDONIA? HELL NO. WHY SHOULD ANY PARENT HERE IN
THE INNER-CITY GRAND RAPIDS TOLERATE THIS BEHAVIOR? DO THEY LOVE THEIR
CHILDREN ANY LESS? ABSOLUTELY NOT. WE MAY NEED A LITTLE MORE
HELP HERE, ABSOLUTELY, BUT THAT STARTS WITH THE
EMPOWERING OF PEOPLE TO GET A BETTER LIFE,
TO MOVE FORWARD, TO GET OUT OF THE
SITUATION THEY’RE IN. THAT’S SNOWBALLING EFFECT
WOULD HELP CONSIDERABLY.>>ANYONE ELSE?
>>I’D JUST LIKE TO ENCOURAGE YOU ALL THAT YOU
DON’T HAVE TO BE A PROFESSIONAL OR IN THE FIELD
TO BE ABLE TO MAKE AN IMPACT
ON ANOTHER PERSON’S LIFE, WHETHER YOUNG OR OLD. SO, YOU DON’T HAVE
TO CARRY AROUND A TITLE– YOU CAN JUST BE
AN ORDINARY HUMAN BEING WHO
LOVES TO WORK WITH PEOPLE, WHO HAS THE PASSION. IT COMES FROM THE HEART. YOU WON’T LEARN HOW TO BUILD
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS BY GOING TO SCHOOL OR BECAUSE
OF THE STATUS OR THE TITLE OR THE POSITION
THAT YOU CARRY. IT COMES FROM THE HEART. SO, IF ANY OF YOU–
AND IF NOT ALL OF US– HAVE THE DESIRE
TO MAKE A CHANGE, THEN WE NEED TO BE ABLE
TO STEP OUT AND ENCOURAGE. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO STEP OUT
AND NOT BE AFRAID TO BE ABLE TO, AS I SHARED WITH THE STUDENTS
BEFORE WE CAME DOWN HERE, JUST TO SAY “HI.” I FIND IT DIFFICULT THAT WHEN
I’M WALKING DOWN THE STREET OR WALKING INTO
THE COURTHOUSE, I SEE PEOPLE THAT
I MAY COME IN CONTACT WITH THREE OR FOUR TIMES
OUT OF THE WEEK WHO DON’T EVEN
SPEAK TO ME. OR IF I SAY “HI,”
THEY MAY JUST SMILE. AGAIN, BUILDING
RELATIONSHIP IS IMPORTANT AND IT STARTS FROM THE SMALLEST
AND THEN WE WORK OURSELVES UP. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE
IN LAW ENFORCEMENT, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE
A CRIMINAL JUSTICE MAJOR. YOU CAN BE
A STAY-AT-HOME MOM, YOU CAN BE MAYBE A BASKETBALL
COACH OR A SINGLE MOM OR A SINGLE DAD OR EVEN COME
FROM A TWO PARENT FAMILY– WE SPEAK ABOUT HOW THERE’S
A LACK OF RESOURCES
IN OUR INNER-CITY. HOWEVER, WE HAVE A LOT OF
RESOURCES IN OUR INNER-CITY THAT ARE MADE AVAILABLE–
THAT ARE AVAILABLE, BUT OUR FAMILIES AREN’T
AWARE OF THE RESOURCES THAT ARE OUT THERE. SO, FOR THOSE OF US
WHO HAVE PROGRAMS THAT ARE
WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES, WE NEED TO SHARE THAT
INFORMATION WITH OTHERS, AND WE DON’T KNOW IT UNLESS–
WE WON’T KNOW ABOUT IT AND WE CAN’T UTILIZE
THOSE PROGRAMS IF
WE AREN’T AWARE OF IT. SO, JUST MAKING OURSELVES
AWARE AS TO WHAT IS GOING ON. AND AGAIN, YOU DON’T HAVE
TO BE PART OF A PROGRAM TO SEE A YOUNG PERSON WALKING
DOWN THE STREET AND SAY “HI,” OR TO SEE A STRUGGLING
MOTHER WHO MAY NEED A RIDE, SHE HAS A BABY IN HER HANDS
AND IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, JUST ASK TO SEE IF SHE’D NEED
A RIDE DOWN THE STREET. WE NEED TO START TO STEP
OUTSIDE OF OUR COMFORT ZONES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.>>OKAY, NEXT QUESTION– SOME
OF YOU ALREADY COVERED THIS, AND IT PRETTY MUCH GOT BEAT
TO DEATH THE LAST TWO NIGHTS IF YOU WERE HERE. HOW MANY OF YOU WERE
HERE LAST NIGHT? HOW MANY PEOPLE– YEAH, YOU’RE STUCK, HUH?
(audience laughing) HOW MANY PEOPLE
THE NIGHT BEFORE– THE FIRST NIGHT,
MONDAY NIGHT? OKAY, HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE
BEEN HERE ALL THREE NIGHTS? YOU GET AN EXTRA COOKIE– GO
AHEAD AND HELP YOURSELF THERE. (audience laughing)
ANYWAYS, WE’RE GONNA GIVE YOU THE TRUE STORY AS TO WHAT
WE THINK IS CAUSING THIS, AS OPPOSED TO THE PEOPLE
WHO READ BOOKS ALL THE TIME FROM THE OTHER TWO NIGHTS…
(audience laughing) SO, I’M JUST THE OPEN
UP THIS QUESTION– WE’RE NOT GOING TO NECESSARILY
GO DOWN– IT’S A TOUGH QUESTION. CRIMINAL JUSTICE
ARE TOUGH.>>HE JUST SAID THAT TO HIS
BOSS, PROVOST OF OUR COLLEGE. DR. GELY, CAN YOU
RAISE YOUR HAND? (audience laughing)
>>HI, BOSS. (audience laughing)
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. (audience laughing)
OH, I’M ALL– I HAVE NO CLUE
WHAT I’M DOING NOW. (audience laughing)
ANYWAYS, I’M GOING TO–>>HARVARD PROFESSOR NOW.
>>THAT’S RIGHT. VICKI, WE NEED TO TALK. ANYWAYS, ANYONE WANT
TO TAKE THIS ON FIRST? LIKE I SAID, SOME OF YOU
ALREADY TOUCHED ON THIS PART. IT REITERATES THIS– WHAT
ARE YOUR THOUGHTS BASED UPON YOUR EXPERIENCES
OUT THERE?>>WHAT’S THE QUESTION AGAIN?>>THE QUESTION IS
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CAUSATIONAL
FACTORS TRIGGERING VIOLENCE?>>I THINK IT’S ACTUALLY ONE OF
THE MOST CHALLENGING QUESTIONS TODAY ON THE FACE
OF THE EARTH. IT’S NO ONE, TWO,
OR TEN REASONS– I THINK IT CAN BE A COMBINATION
OF MANY OR ONE OR HALF OF ONE, BASED ON THE INDIVIDUAL. BUT A COUPLE OF
OVERARCHING FACTS– I THINK THE VAST AVAILABILITY
OF FIREARMS, FIRST OF ALL. WE HAVE OVER 310 MILLION
FIREARMS IN THE UNITED
STATES TODAY. IT COMES DOWN TO ABOUT
40 PERCENT OF EVERY HOUSEHOLD AT LEAST HAS ONE, AND THEN
IT GOES A LITTLE BIT FURTHER– IF YOU HAVE ONE,
YOU GENERALLY HAVE SEVERAL. SO, JUST AVAILABILITY
OF FIREARMS. BUT WHEN YOU HAVE 310 MILLION,
YOU CAN TAKE 20 MILLION AWAY AND WHAT WILL THAT DO? YOU KNOW, SO IT’S JUST
THAT ABILITY TO GET A GUN. AND THEN, MANY FOLKS
HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT
YET HOW TO LIVE A LIFE WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE, THEY
DON’T UNDERSTAND THE RESOURCES– KENT COUNTY AND GRAND
RAPIDS, WE ARE VERY, VERY RICH IN RESOURCES. IT’S VERY, VERY FEW FOLKS
THAT IF THEY REALLY UNDERSTOOD THE LEVEL OF RESOURCES AVAILABLE
TO THEM IN THEIR SITUATION, THAT THEY’D HAVE TO GO WITHOUT–
THEM AND THEIR FAMILY– BUT FOR WHATEVER REASON,
SOME FOLKS FEEL THAT WHEN THEY DON’T
HAVE SOMETHING, THAT IS JUST NOT A
BIG PROBLEM TO GO OUT AND TRY TO TAKE IT
FROM SOMEONE ELSE. YOU KNOW, IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE
ABOUT TURNING ON THE T.V. AND LOOKING AT VIDEOS
AND CERTAIN VIDEO GAMES AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE, BUT
AT SOME POINT AS INDIVIDUALS, THAT WOULD HAVE TO
IMPACT US AT SOME LEVEL. YOU KNOW, I PLAYED A VIDEO GAME–
I HUNT AND FISH, AND I HAVE
A NINE-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON AND WE HAVE THESE
HUNTING VIDEO GAMES, AND IT’S WITH THE WII SO
YOU GET TO PUSH THE BUTTON AND IT PULLS
THE BOW BACK, AND I’VE NEVER SHOT AT DEER WITH
A BOW OTHER THAN IN THIS GAME, BUT LET ME TELL YOU, I START
SWEATING AND SHAKING WHEN I MISS. I DON’T KNOW WHAT
THE IMPACT OF THAT ON A
9-, 10-, OR 11-YEAR-OLD WHO DOES THAT
EVERY SINGLE DAY. I WOULD HAVE TO THINK,
AS A PROFESSIONAL, THAT SOMEWHERE ALONG THAT
LINE IS LIFE CHEAPENED? YOU KNOW, THE AVAILABILITY
TO SHOOT SOMEONE– I THINK THAT
STIGMA IS DIMINISHED. AND A COUPLE OF FOLKS
UP HERE MENTIONED THE
WORD “DESENSITIZED,” AND THAT’S
A SCARY WORD. I’M NOT SO SURE THAT
I’M DESENSITIZED. I WORK WITH FOLKS
EACH AND EVERY DAY, EVERY INDIVIDUAL
HAS BEEN TO PRISON. AND YOU KNOW,
THE FLIPSIDE OF THAT– AND THIS MAY COME AS A SURPRISE
TO SOME OF MY STUDENTS HERE, WE WOULD GET TO
THIS THIS SEMESTER, BUT I’M IN EX-OFFENDER MYSELF. I SERVED OVER 14 YEARS IN
MICHIGAN PRISON, IN ONE SETTING. AND SO, YOU CAN HAVE THAT TITLE,
YOU CAN EARN THAT TITLE, BUT I’VE NOT
ALWAYS HAD IT. I CAME FROM THE OTHER
SIDE OF THE FENCE, BUT I’VE BEEN GIVEN
OPPORTUNITIES HERE
IN GRAND RAPIDS, TO EVERY OPPORTUNITY WAS
AFFORDED ME TO CHANGE MY LIFE, AND NOW I’M THE DIRECTOR OF
A PRISON REENTRY PROGRAM. I HAVE CLEARANCE–
I CAN GO IN ANY PRISON
IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, BUT WHO THE HELL
WOULD WANT TO DO THAT? (audience laughing)
YOU KNOW, BUT LISTEN– I LOVE DOING THAT BECAUSE I HAVE
THE OPPORTUNITY TO IMPACT THEM AND HELP THEM
CHANGE THEIR LIVES. SO, I’LL BE THERE TOMORROW
MORNING– I CAN’T WAIT. BUT YOU KNOW– I DON’T THINK
WE CAN BECOME DESENSITIZED, BUT WE WILL STILL SHED A TEAR,
WE WILL STILL BECOME FRUSTRATED BECAUSE EVEN IN OUR WORK,
I CAN’T HELP EVERYBODY. FOR ONE, I DON’T HAVE THE
RESOURCES AND THE DOLLARS TO HELP EVERYBODY,
AND SAD AS IT MAY SEEM, EVERYBODY DOESN’T
WANT HELP. SO, WE KIND OF LOOK OUT IN
OUR CASELOAD AND THOSE THAT– WE OFFER IT
TO EVERYONE. WE DON’T WAIT TILL THEY’RE
HERE– WE GO INTO THE PRISON AND WE MEET THEM NINE MONTHS
BEFORE THEY’RE RELEASED. SO, THOSE THAT LOOK FOR HELP
OR THEY’D LIKE TO HELP, THE ABILITY TO CHANGE,
WE’RE THERE TO HELP THEM REBUILD THEIR LIVES. AND DESPITE OUR BEST EFFORTS,
SOME FOLKS– IT MAY TAKE THEM THREE
OR FOUR OR FIVE TIMES, BUT WE DON’T THROW
THE INDIVIDUAL AWAY, WE DON’T COUNT THE TIMES THAT
THEY FALL AND GET BACK UP. WE JUST CONSTANTLY ENCOURAGE
THEM TO GET BACK UP, AND WE’RE THERE
TO HELP THEM. WE DON’T LOOK DOWN OUR NOSE
AND POINT OUR FINGERS AT THEM AND TREAT THEM
ANY OTHER WAY, BECAUSE HAD SOMEBODY
DONE THAT TO ME, I DOUBT IF I’D BE SITTING
AT THIS TABLE TODAY.>>ANYONE ELSE–
CAUSATIONAL FACTORS?>>I’LL SPEAK TO A
LITTLE BIT– AND AGAIN, I THINK THE COMPLEXITIES OF THIS
ISSUE GO BEYOND THE DISCUSSION THAT WE COULD HAVE IN
JUST A FEW HOURS. WE COULD SPEND THIS TIME
TALKING ABOUT EDUCATION, WE COULD SPEND THE TIME
TALKING ABOUT SOCIAL ECONOMIC, WE COULD TALK ABOUT PARENTAL
UPBRINGING, ETCETERA. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE,
WHAT I CAN BRING– AND IT’S JUST TALKING
TO PEOPLE. I SHOULD PROBABLY CLARIFY
BECAUSE I DID USE THE TERM “DESENSITIZED.” WHAT THEY MEAN BY THAT IS
IN DOING WHAT I’VE DONE, REPRESENTING PEOPLE FOR
OVER CLOSE TO 18 YEARS NOW, IT’S UNFORTUNATE– AND
I SPEAK TO MYSELF FOR THIS– VERY LITTLE NOW
SHOCKS THE CONSCIENCE. DOES IT MEAN I DON’T
CARE OR I’M NOT CONCERNED? ABSOLUTELY NOT. AND IT’S ONE WHERE I’M IN
A BUSINESS WHERE MY WIFE AND FAMILY CAN ATTEST– I KEEP
MY BUSINESS AT THE OFFICE. WHY DO I DO THAT? BECAUSE I’D BE VERY DEPRESSED
IF I TOOK IT HOME AND I TALKED
ABOUT IT THERE. WE KEEP IT AT THE OFFICE–
THAT’S JUST ME PERSONALLY. BUT I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY
TO REPRESENT A YOUNG MAN A FEW YEAR– WELL,
ACTUALLY A FEW MONTHS BACK, AND HE’S ONE OF MANY
THAT I’VE REPRESENTED WHERE YOU HAVE AN INDIVIDUAL
WHO IS 17 OR 18 YEARS OLD, IN SCHOOL, CARRYING A GOOD GRADE
POINT AVERAGE, ATHLETIC, LIMITED RECORD
TO NO RECORD, AND A VEHICLE GETS PULLED
OVER AND LO AND BEHOLD, HE HAS A GUN ON HIM… AND HE CHARGED WITH
SOMETHING CALLED “CARRYING
A CONCEALED WEAPON.” IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, THAT’S
A FELONY AND ONE OF THE WAYS THAT THE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
DEALS WITH THAT TYPE OF CHARGES, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT,
PLEA OFFERS ARE NOT MADE. THAT’S THE CHARGE,
THAT’S WHAT STICKS. NOW THAT’S NOT AN ABSOLUTE, BUT
THAT’S GENERALLY WHAT HAPPENS. AND I ASKED THIS YOUNG MAN IN
PART OF OUR DISCUSSION, “WHY?” MY FIRST QUESTION– “YOU HAVE
ANY TRAINING WITH A WEAPON?” “ABSOLUTELY NOT.” “WHERE DID YOU GET IT?”
“WELL, ON THE STREET.” “NO, NO, NO– WHERE
DID YOU GET IT?” “WELL, I GOT IT
FROM SO-AND-SO.” “WHY DID YOU HAVE IT?”
“WELL, FOR MY PROTECTION.” “PROTECTION FROM WHAT? “WHAT DO YOU MEAN PROTECTION? “ARE YOU A FUGITIVE? “ARE YOU RUNNING FROM SOMEONE? “DID YOU FORGET TO PAY A BILL?” “NO, IT’S THE PEOPLE
THAT I’M WITH.” “WHAT YOU MEAN THE PEOPLE
THAT YOU ARE WITH?” “WELL, EVERYONE ELSE HAS A GUN,
SO I GUESS I NEEDED ONE.” “WHY? “WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON DOING WITH
THIS GUN,” WAS MY NEXT QUESTION. “HAVE YOU EVER FIRED A GUN?”
“NO, I’VE NEVER FIRED IT.” “DO YOU KNOW HOW TO
HOLD IT OR HANDLE IT?” “NO.” “SO, THE ONLY THING
YOU KNOW HOW TO DO IS
STICK IT IN YOUR WAISTBAND. “WHAT GOOD IS THIS GONNA COME? “WHAT YOU PLAN ON DOING IF
SOMEONE CONFRONTS YOU WITH IT? “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? “YOU JUST TOLD ME YOU
DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO USE IT.” “WELL, I DON’T KNOW.” “GENERALLY, WHEN A GUN
IS PULLED ON SOMEONE, “ONE OF TWO THINGS HAPPENS–
EITHER YOU SHOOT THEM “OR THEY SHOOT YOU. “YOU’RE 18 YEARS OLD–
EITHER YOU’RE GOING TO
END SOMEBODY’S LIFE, “OR YOUR LIFE
IS GOING TO END. “IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?” “WELL, NO,” AND YOU SEE
THEM LOOK DOWN THE FLOOR AND TEARS START
TO WELL UP. “STOP CRYING–
YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW. “YOU WANT TO PLAY WITH GUNS? “WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT
THE RESPONSIBILITIES.” THESE ARE SOME OF THE
CONVERSATIONS I HAVE WITH MY CLIENTS. AND THIS WAS A YOUNG MAN– WE
GOT HIM THROUGH THE SITUATION– “WE”– SPEAKING A LITTLE
ARROGANTLY HERE– WE ENDED UP GETTING A RESOLUTION
TO THIS CASE. WE ENDED UP GETTING HIM ON A
PROGRAM WHERE HE WAS ABLE TO HAVE THIS CHARGE
TAKEN OFF HIS RECORD, AND HE’S IN COLLEGE NOW,
AND DOING QUITE WELL. I TALK TO HIS MOTHER
EVERY NOW AND AGAIN, BUT HE’S JUST
ONE PERSON. ONE PERSON OUT OF HUNDREDS
A YEAR THAT I REPRESENT. THE ONES THAT TRULY CONCERN
ME– I HAD ANOTHER YOUNG MAN, SAME SCENARIO,
CAUGHT WITH A GUN. IN THIS CASE, IT WAS ONE OF,
“EH, IF I GO TO PRISON, “I GO TO PRISON.” NOW, I’VE ONLY VISITED
FOLKS IN PRISON, CLIENTS THAT I’VE
HAD TO REPRESENT. THAT’S NOT A PLACE
I CARE TO GO BACK TO. NUMBER ONE, THERE’S
TOO MANY RULES. (audience chuckling) I’M NOT EXACTLY A RULE
FOLLOWER– I AM BUT I’M NOT. BUT YOU KNOW, I’LL FOLLOW
THE RULES, BUT YOU KNOW, “DO THIS, DO THIS, GET UP
AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME, “GO TO BED AT THIS TIME, YOU
COULD HAVE DINNER AT THIS TIME.” “WELL, I DON’T WANT TO
HAVE DINNER AT THAT TIME.” “WELL, THAT’S TOO BAD– THIS
IS WHEN WE’RE HAVING DINNER.” THE CONCERN THAT I HAVE
WITH MANY YOUNG FOLKS THAT I DEAL WITH–
THEY’RE NOT AFRAID. THEY’RE NOT AFRAID–
NOW, WHETHER IT’S A FRONT THAT THEY’RE TRYING TO PUT ON,
THAT THEY’RE SCARED TO DEATH, AND THE VAST MAJORITY
OF THEM ARE. BUT SOMEHOW THEY HAVE
TO PUT THIS FRONT ON… “WELL, I’M NOT AFRAID
TO GO TO PRISON.” WELL, YOU SHOULD BE. THOSE ARE THE CONCERNS
THAT I HAVE AND THAT I SEE, AND THAT I’VE FOUND
JUST A CONVERSATION AND BEING A GOOD LISTENER,
AND YES, TIME IS PRECIOUS… BUT I CAN SAY TO YOU,
IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE, A YOUTH– THEY DON’T
HAVE TO BE A YOUTH, ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES
WITH THIS– AND MOST OF THESE
ARE GANG-RELATED. THE PEER PRESSURE– THERE’S
A GENTLEMAN IN THE BACK WHO I’D LOVE TO HAVE A
CONVERSATION WHO’S FROM L.A. I’M NOT SPEAKING FOR YOU, BUT MY GUESS IS THAT
THE AMOUNT OF PEER PRESSURE TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THIS TYPE
OF ACTIVITY IS OVERWHELMING. IT’S OVERWHELMING, AND AT TIMES,
IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. IF YOU DON’T JOIN
OR PARTICIPATE, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. BUT FROM A COMMUNITY
STANDPOINT, WHAT I CAN EMPHASIZE TO
ANYONE AND EVERYONE OUT HERE. JUST LISTENING SOMETIMES–
LISTENING TO THE CONCERNS. I HAVE TWO BOYS AT HOME–
MY GREATEST FEAR IN HAVING TWO CHILDREN
WAS NOT THE EXPENSE, BECAUSE GOD KNOWS
THEY’RE EXPENSIVE. BUT IT’S DEALING WITH THE
ISSUES THAT ARE OUT THERE NOW. THE ISSUES OF GETTING INTO A
LITTLE FIGHT ON THE PLAYGROUND, TALKING TO THEM ABOUT DRUGS
OBVIOUSLY IS IMPORTANT, BUT IT’S THE PEER PRESSURE
AND THE ISSUES THAT CHILDREN
HAVE TO DEAL WITH. CHILDREN– AND YES,
THAT’S CORRECT– CHILDREN HAVE
TO DEAL WITH. IT’S SAD, BUT THE START
IS WE CAN’T BE VICTIMS. WE HAVE TO
AT LEAST STEP UP AND JUST LISTEN TO
SOME OF THESE KIDS AND THE CONCERNS. AND IF YOU CAN JUST POINT
THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE RESOURCES ARE THERE. AND IF THEY’RE NOT, THEY
ARE EASY TO COME BY. BUT JUST LISTEN.>>OKAY, I JUST WANT TO SAY
AS FAR AS MY OPINION AND THINKING WHAT ARE SOME
OF THE CAUSATIONAL FACTORS THAT’S TRIGGERING SO MUCH
VIOLENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY, I THINK IT’S A COUPLE
OF DIFFERENT REASONS. MAINLY, THE FIRST ONE
I WOULD SAY IS IGNORANCE. YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT
THERE THAT JUST DON’T KNOW, AND THEY’RE TRYING TO
FIT IN, THEY’RE LOST, SO THEY REACH OUT AND THEY
BRANCH OUT TO WHOEVER IS SHOWING THEM LOVE OR
ATTENTION OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. SO, I THINK THE BIGGEST
PROBLEM WOULD BE IGNORANCE. AND THEY DON’T THINK
ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES. THEY GO OUT AND THEY DO
SOMETHING AND THEY THINK THEY’RE GOING TO GO OUT AND ROB
SOMEONE AND GET SOME MONEY, AND THEY END UP
KILLING THAT PERSON. THEY DON’T THINK ABOUT
HOW THEY’RE GOING TO SPEND THE REST OF THEIR
LIVES IN PRISON, OR THAT SOMEONE
MAY COME AFTER THEM AND IN RETURN KILL THEM,
OR KILL THEIR AUNT, OR KILL THEIR GIRLFRIEND,
OR THINGS LIKE THAT. SO, I THINK A HUGE
PROBLEM IS IGNORANCE. THEY DON’T KNOW HOW
TO PROBLEM SOLVE, WORK OUT THEIR DISPUTES OR THEIR
FIGHTS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. ALL THEY KNOW HOW
TO DO IS TO GET A GUN FROM ONE OF THEIR PEERS, OR BREAK INTO SOMEONE’S
HOUSE AND STEAL A GUN THERE, AND GO OUT AND REACT TO A
SITUATION THAT COULD HAVE BEEN
HANDLED COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BESIDES GOING
TO KILL THAT PERSON. AND THEN AGAIN,
WITH WHAT EVERYBODY
HAS BEEN SAYING TONIGHT, JUST THE LACK OF ROLE MODELS
AND THAT POSITIVE INFLUENCE. IT’S SO HARD TO FIND SOMEONE
TO JUST TELL THE PERSON THAT THEY CARE. WHEN YOU LOOK AT
THE SCHOOL SYSTEMS TODAY
AND THINGS LIKE THAT, I THINK THAT THAT
IS A HUGE IMPACT, AND WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE
A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL– I KNOW WHEN I WAS GROWING
UP IN SCHOOL, I HAD POSITIVE ROLE
MODELS EVERYWHERE. ALL OF MY INSTRUCTORS, ALL MY
TEACHERS, ALL MY INSTRUCTORS, IN MY CHURCH, AND
THINGS LIKE THAT… AND THAT’S MISSING TODAY. WE DON’T HAVE PEOPLE OUT
THERE TELLING LITTLE BOYS HOW TO CARRY THEMSELVES,
TO PULL UP THEIR PANTS, TO DO THINGS THAT
THEY SHOULD KNOW. SO, THE HUGE PROBLEM IS
THE LACK OF ROLE MODELS OUT IN THE COMMUNITY. AND WITH PEOPLE
TRYING TO FIT IN. I SEE IT IN JAIL
ALL THE TIME. ONE PERSON WALKING AROUND,
THE SECOND ONE DOES. ONE PERSON GETS IN A FIGHT,
THE OTHER ONE HAS TO JUMP IN JUST TO TRY TO FIT IN. SO, ACTUALLY TEACHING THIS
PERSON HOW TO BE AN INDIVIDUAL, HOW TO STAND UP FOR THEMSELVES,
AND THINGS LIKE THAT. THAT’S WHAT’S MISSING, AND
I THINK THAT’S A HUGE PROBLEM THAT CAUSES A LOT
OF THE VIOLENCE THAT WE HAVE
IN OUR COMMUNITY.>>OKAY, I GUESS I
HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING. (audience laughing)
I’M GONNA THROW OUT A COUPLE OF OTHER
KINDS OF THINGS LIKE
THE LACK OF COMMUNITY. HOW MANY OF YOU WENT TO
SCHOOL IN YOUR OWN COMMUNITY? HOW MANY OF YOU LIVE IN THE
COMMUNITY YOU WERE RAISED IN? HOW MANY OF YOU
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS? HOW MANY OF YOU KNOW THE PEOPLE
THAT LIVE NEXT DOOR TO YOU? HOW MANY OF YOU KNOW
THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE FIVE DOORS
AWAY FROM YOU? YOU KNOW, WHEN DID WE
GET AWAY FROM GETTING TO KNOW THE PEOPLE THAT
WE LIVED AROUND OR LIVING IN
TRANSIENT COMMUNITIES? OR LOOKING OUT
FOR SOMEONE ELSE. YOU KNOW, WHEN I WAS
GROWING UP– I’LL AGE MYSELF– YOU KNOW, THERE WAS
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH PROGRAMS AND EVERYBODY KNEW
EVERYONE ON YOUR STREET AND YOU WATCHED OUT FOR ALL
THE KIDS WHO WALKED HOME. YOU KNEW WHO BELONGED THERE
AND WHO DIDN’T BELONG THERE, AND YOU WEREN’T GONNA HESITATE
IN TERMS OF BECOMING INVOLVED. WE DON’T DO THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS NOW. I HAVE A DAUGHTER THAT LIVES
IN THE CRESTON NEIGHBORHOOD, TWO BLOCKS AWAY FROM
THE LAST SHOOTING, AND SHE HAS TALKED ABOUT,
“SHOULD I HAVE A WEAPON? “SHOULD I HAVE A GUN?” WELL, HER SOLUTION IS
MULTIPLE PIT BULLS…
(audience laughing) AND I’M NOT SUGGESTING
THAT THEY’RE PERHAPS ANY BETTER THAN
OWNING A HANDGUN, BUT THAT IS HER SOLUTION, AND AS
MOST PEOPLE IN HER NEIGHBORHOOD TELL ME, “WE’RE NOT GOING
ANYWHERE NEAR THAT HOUSE.” (laughing)
YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU START TALKING ABOUT
DESENSITIZATION IN TERMS OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOODS
AND GETTING TO KNOW THINGS, AND EVERYBODY WHO’S
SITTING IN HERE KINDA SAID YOU WERE INTERESTED IN
CRIMINAL JUSTICE. YOU KNOW, IF YOU’RE INTERESTED
IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE, YOU’VE ALREADY
TAKEN AN EDGE. YOU ALREADY KNOW YOU’RE GOING
TO RUN TOWARDS SOMETHING INSTEAD OF AWAY
FROM SOMETHING. YOU KNOW THE PERSON SITTING
ACROSS THE TABLE FROM YOU ISN’T GOING TO BE
A PERFECT PERSON WHO’S
NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE. YOU’RE GOING TO DEAL
WITH VIOLENT PEOPLE, YOU’RE GOING TO DEAL
WITH DRUG ABUSERS, AND JUST THE FACT THAT YOU
HAVE THE COURAGE NOW TO GO INTO THAT KIND OF PROFESSION
SAYS A LOT ABOUT YOU. I’VE LISTENED TO
SOMEBODY MENTION IN TERMS OF “MILLION MOTHERS”
OR “M.A.D.D.” YOU KNOW, THINK ABOUT–
AGAIN, YOU PROBABLY CAN’T BECAUSE MOST OF YOU
ARE TOO YOUNG, BUT WHEN YOU THINK BACK
TO DRINK DRIVING, BEFORE M.A.D.D., DRUNK DRIVING
WAS, “I DRIVE YOU HOME, “ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE FEMALE,”
THE COP DROVE YOU HOME INSTEAD OF ARRESTING YOU
AND PUTTING YOU IN CUSTODY FOR DRIVING DRUNK. YOU KNOW, M.A.D.D. HAD A BIG
IMPACT IN HOW WE ENFORCE THE LAWS IN TERMS
OF DRUNK DRIVING. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS, IF
YOU GO BACK AGAIN A FEW YEARS, YOU KNOW IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT
TO HAVE A PROSECUTION IN TERMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. AND YET, NOW, WE WERE
TALKING BEFORE THIS PROGRAM THAT EVERY PERSON WHO
HAS A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON THEIR RECORD COMING OUT OF
PRISON INTO THE REENTRY PROGRAM HAS TO DO 52 WEEKS OF
A COUNSELING SESSION. YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE HEARD
OF THAT A FEW YEARS AGO. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE,
WHETHER IT’S MENTORING SOMEONE, WHETHER IT’S
A GRASSROOTS EFFORT, WHETHER IT’S JUST GETTING TO
KNOW YOUR NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR. YOU KNOW, MY BACKGROUND
IN TERMS OF TEACHING HERE IS SUBSTANCE ABUSE. YOU KNOW, I SEE A LOT
OF PEOPLE COME OUT OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE FAMILIES,
ALCOHOLIC FAMILIES. WHEN YOU START TALKING
ABOUT SOMEONE WHO’S RAISED WITH A MOTHER WHO SPENDS
MOST OF HER SAVINGS AND
HER LIFE SMOKING CRACK, YOU DON’T LEARN HOW TO
CARE ABOUT SOMEBODY ELSE, HOW TO BOND WITH SOMEBODY ELSE,
OR HOW TO BE A PARENT YOURSELF. YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES IT’S
JUST THOSE KINDS OF THINGS– LEARNING OR TEACHING SOMEBODY
HOW TO BE A BETTER PARENT TO THEIR OWN KIDS, OR HELPING OUT THAT KID WHOSE
PARENT IS NOT IN A POSITION TO BE ABLE TO HELP THEM. BUT AGAIN, I APPLAUD ALL OF
YOU FOR EVEN BEING INTERESTED IN THE PROFESSION, BECAUSE
IT’S GOING TO TAKE A LOT– IT’S GOING TO TAKE A TOLL
ON YOU AND ON YOUR FAMILIES… BUT YOU’LL PROBABLY NEVER
FIND A GREATER REWARD. AT LEAST I NEVER HAVE. GO AHEAD, JOHN.
>>I THINK… (audience laughing)
I’D MEAN TO BE THE DEAD ONE.>>WE’VE GOT TIME.>>I JUST WANT TO ECHO WHAT
NIKI EDWARDS SAID WITH RESPECT TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION. I HAVE SEEN THROUGH MY
EXPERIENCE JUST THE INABILITY TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
IN A MEANINGFUL
MANNER IN OUR SOCIETY. WHEN I FIRST STARTED, MANY OF
THE HOMICIDES WERE ATTRIBUTED TO CRACK COCAINE AND
CRACK COCAINE MARKETS. I CAN KIND OF WRAP
MY HEAD AROUND THAT, FROM AN ECONOMIC STANDPOINT. IF YOU’RE MOVING IN ON MY TURF,
THAT’S PROBLEMATIC, BECAUSE THAT RESULTS IN MY
BOTTOM LINE BEING IMPACTED. AND I’M BY NO MEANS ATTEMPTING
TO JUSTIFY HOMICIDES IN THE LATE ’80s
AND EARLY ’90s, BUT YOU AT LEAST
UNDERSTOOD ON SOME LEVEL WHAT WAS GOING ON. NOW, IN THIS DAY AND AGE,
I HAVE NO IDEA WHATSOEVER WHY KIDS ARE
KILLING KIDS… AND I DON’T THINK
THEY KNOW EITHER. BECAUSE THIS STUFF–
IT’S JUST SELF-PERPETUATING. IT’S A SNOWBALLING EFFECT. YOU KNOW, “I’M SHOOTING HIM
BECAUSE HE SHOT AT MY BUDDY, “WHO SHOT AT HIS BUDDY,”
AND IT GOES ON DOWN THE LINE. BY THE TIME YOU REACH
THE 10th PERSON, THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY’RE
SHOOTING AT THIS OTHER PERSON. IS IT OVER SOMEBODY
DISRESPECTING SOMEBODY? IS IT THE COLOR OF
SOMEBODY’S GYM SHOES? ONE OF OUR SHOOTINGS WAS
BECAUSE ONE YOUNG MAN THREW A SNOWBALL AT ANOTHER
YOUNG MAN’S GIRLFRIEND. I’M NOT KIDDING YOU. THEY STARTED SHOOTING
AT EACH OTHER OVER THAT. SO, THE INABILITY TO
RESOLVE CONFLICT IN A MANNER IN WHICH A CIVILIZED
SOCIETY SHOULD EXPECT HAS REALLY BECOME
MARGINALIZED. WE NEED TO TEACH OUR YOUNG
PEOPLE HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT IN A MANNER IN WHICH
WON’T GET THEM KILLED. WE NEED TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN
THAT IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SOMEBODY, YOU DISCUSS IT,
YOU TALK ABOUT IT, YOU RESOLVE IT IN A MANNER
IN WHICH VIOLENCE IS NOT INVOLVED. AND I THINK IN OUR
FAST-PACED, TECHNOLOGICALLY
ADVANCED SOCIETY, SOMEHOW INTERPERSONAL
COMMUNICATION IS LOST ON MANY LEVELS. IT’S MUCH MORE CONVENIENT TO
SOLVE PROBLEMS IN THAT MANNER AND IN A MORE
EXPEDITIOUS MANNER, WHETHER IT’S TEXTING
SOMEBODY OR WHETHER IT’S
SHOOTING AT SOMEBODY.>>I WOULD JUST LIKE TO ALSO
SAY THAT IN MY EXPERIENCE IN WORKING WITH
THE FAMILIES IS THAT WHAT I SEE AS SOME
OF THE CAUSATIONAL FACTORS IS SOME OF WHAT OTHERS
HAVE ALREADY STATED, BUT THE LACK OF EDUCATION NOT
JUST TO THE POINT OF RESOURCES BUT EVEN IN OUR SCHOOLS
IN REGARDS TO THE SEPARATION OF HOW INNER-CITY SCHOOLS
RECEIVE THEIR EDUCATION, COMPARED TO THE OUTER SCHOOLS
WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES. AND SO, THAT TO ME IS
A CAUSATIONAL FACTOR BECAUSE IT CREATES A DISRUPTION
IN THE SCHOOL SETTING. ALSO THE LACK OF– I’M SORRY,
THE LACK OF PARENTING. ALTHOUGH I WORK WITH JUVENILES,
WE ALSO WORK CLOSELY WITH THE PARENTS OR THE
GUARDIANS OF THESE JUVENILES. AND SO SOME OF THEIR PARENTAL–
THERE’S SOME PARENTAL ISSUES, AND AS A PROBATION OFFICER,
SOMETIMES I HAVE TO WEAR THE HAT OF THE PARENT, AND ALSO TO BE
ABLE TO EDUCATE THE PARENT ON HOW TO PARENT
THEIR CHILD. THE INABILITY OF THESE PARENTS
TO PARENT THEIR CHILDREN I BELIEVE IS A
CAUSATIONAL FACTOR, ALONG WITH
THE SUBSTANCE USE. THIS NUMBER MAY BE
OFF A LITTLE BIT, BUT THE MAJORITY OF OUR YOUNG
PEOPLE THAT WE WORK WITH, MOST OF THEM USE MARIJUANA,
IF NOT OTHER DRUGS… BUT THE MOST COMMON
DRUG IS MARIJUANA. AND SO, THEIR INABILITY
TO THINK RATIONALLY AS
THE OFFICER JUST MENTIONED AND TO DEAL WITH CONFLICT
IS ONE OF A HUGE FACTOR IN REGARDS TO VIOLENCE. PEER PRESSURE– AND I HAVE TO
SAY THAT IN MY LINE OF WORK, AGAIN, THE FACT THAT THESE
YOUNG PEOPLE WANT TO BE A PART OF SOMETHING OR SOMEONE
MAKES IT MORE FRIGHTENING AND CONCERNING FOR MYSELF
AND FOR THE OTHER WORKERS AND OFFICERS
IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. THOSE ARE THE MOST SCARIEST
FOLKS IN OUR COMMUNITIES, THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO
OBTAIN SOME TYPE OF STATUS. NOT THE ONES WHO ARE
VERY STREET-MINDED, BUT THE ONES WHO ARE TRYING
TO GET IN WHERE THEY CAN FIT IN, THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT
ARE HURTING OTHERS. AND SO, A LACK OF INSPIRATION,
A LACK OF GOALS, A LACK OF SELF-IDENTITY
IS ALSO, IN MY OPINION, A CAUSATIONAL FACTOR. OFTEN TIMES I’LL ASK
THE YOUNG PEOPLE, “WHAT ARE SOME
OF YOUR GOALS?” 15, 16, 14 YEARS OLD,
“WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS? “WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO
WHEN YOU GET OLDER?” A LOT OF THEM– THEY HAVE NO
CLUE AS TO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO WHEN THEY GET OLDER. THEY’RE JUST TRYING TO
SURVIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME. IF THEY MAKE IT HOME ALIVE,
THAT’S ABOUT AS FAR AS THEY THINK IN REGARDS
TO THEIR LIFE. SO EMPOWERING THEM TO– OR
ENCOURAGING THEM TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S OKAY FOR THEM
TO LIVE WHERE THEY LIVE, TO BE WHO THEY ARE,
TO GO ATTEND THE SCHOOL THAT THEY ATTEND, ALSO
TO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE OKAY
HOWEVER THEY WERE MADE, HOWEVER GOD HAS MADE THEM, THEY ARE WHO THEY
ARE AND THAT’S OKAY, AND FOR THEM TO
ACCEPT THEMSELVES. I THINK THAT’S SOMETHING
THAT WE NEED TO WORK ON ON THE EVERYDAY–
ON THE EVERYDAY BASIS. I HAD THE YOUNG MAN
IN MY OFFICE TODAY– IT WAS JUST
SO DISHEARTENING. A YOUNG MAN, ALMOST
17 YEARS OF AGE, AND HE WAS REFERRED
TO OUR SYSTEM BECAUSE OF
A HOME INVASION. HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THE KID–
HE ACTUALLY WENT INTO THE HOME WITH ANOTHER KID, NOT
KNOWING WHO THIS KID IS, THEY JUST WENT JUST BECAUSE THIS
KID HAD MENTIONED THAT HE HAD BEEN BREAKING INTO SOME
HOMES IN THE AREA… AND THE KID ASKED HIM
IF HE WANTED TO GO ALONG. NOW HE’S ON PROBATION, DOES
NOT HAVE A JUVENILE RECORD EXCEPT FOR THIS
HOME INVASION CHARGE, BUT HE WANTS TO FIT IN. HE’S OVERWEIGHT, HE HAS
SOME MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, WHICH IS ANOTHER
CAUSATIONAL FACTOR, AND I’M SURE THAT MAY BE
TOUCHED ON LATER THIS EVENING. BUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. HE ALSO– HE DOESN’T
HAVE VERY MANY FRIENDS. THEY CALL HIM NAMES. SO THERE’S A LOT OF OTHER
UNDERLYING ISSUES JUST BESIDES– WE HAD A CONVERSATION
LAST WEEK ABOUT A YOUNG– ER, A PERSON THAT WENT INTO
THE PARTY STORE– HELP ME OUT IF I SAID THIS STORY,
IF I SPEAK ON IT WRONG– HE WENT INTO
THE PARTY STORE, OR WENT INTO THE STORE
OR GAS STATION, THE ATTENDANT WOULDN’T ALLOW–
OR HE WAS UPSET THAT ABOUT
THE CIGARETTES. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT? OKAY, ALL RIGHT, MY
STUDENTS ARE HERE. COME ON, HELP ME OUT.
(audience laughing) AND SO, HE SHOT UP IN
THE AIR– YOU KNOW, HE HAD A GUN ON HIM AND
HE SHOT UP IN THE AIR.>>(indistinct speaking).>>AND SO, WE ASKED THE QUESTION
AS– IT WAS TALKED ABOUT, DISCUSSED, LIKE,
“HOW STUPID IS THAT?” BECAUSE HE DIDN’T LIKE
THE PRICE OF CIGARETTES, BUT IT GOES DEEPER
THAN THAT. AND SO, HE MAY HAVE
BEEN STRESSED AT HOME. MAYBE HE MAY HAVE
LOST HIS JOB. SO, THERE’S A LOT OF
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS THAT MAY COME INTO PLAY
THAT WE NEED TO ADDRESS
TO GET TO THE ROOT OF. (coughing)
>>ANY MEMBER OF OUR ESTEEMED AUDIENCE
WANTS TO WEIGH IN ON THIS CAUSATIONAL THING? WE HAVE A WHOLE GROUP OF THEM
IN THE BACK WITH WHITE SHIRTS BACK THERE.>>HI, MY NAME IS
JORDAN PRIESTLY, SECOND YEAR OF GRCC,
A CRIMINAL JUSTICE MAJOR. WHAT I’VE BEEN THINKING
ABOUT THIS ENTIRE TIME– THE CAUSATIONAL FACTORS
TRIGGERING VIOLENCE– WAS– THIS ISN’T THE MAIN
ONE I THINK, BUT THE LACK OF EMOTION
IN MY GENERATION I FEEL HAS CAUSED
A LOT OF STUFF. LIKE INSTEAD OF GOING
TO YOUR NEIGHBORS, WE JUST CHECK FACEBOOK
AND SEE WHAT’S GOING ON. YOU KNOW,
THE COMPLETE EMOTION– THERE’S NO EMOTION
BEHIND ANY TEXT. YEAH, AN EMOGEE, A SMILEY FACE,
THAT COULD MEAN NOTHING. THAT COULD MEAN NOTHING TO
ANYONE, AND I FEEL LIKE… WE’VE RELIED ON TEXT MESSAGING
AND NOT GOING TO SPEAK OR CALL UP YOUR MOM AND SAY,
“HEY, I LOVE YOU,” YOU KNOW? I FEEL LIKE…
I DON’T KNOW. I FEEL LIKE OUR UPRISE
IN TECHNOLOGY HAS KIND OF IN SOME WAY
MADE US FORGET HOW TO
INTERACT WITH OTHER PEOPLE OR PROBLEM SOLVE
OR RATIONALIZE, AND I FEEL LIKE FOR SURE
TECHNOLOGY IS DEFINITELY– NOT JUST MEDIA. LIKE SIMPLE FACEBOOK, TWITTER,
TEXTING, EVEN CALLING, WE JUST DON’T DO THAT AS MUCH AS
WHEN YOU SAID BACK IN THE DAY, YOU SAID YOU USED TO KNOW
ALL OF YOUR NEIGHBORS. THAT’S BECAUSE YOU
DIDN’T HAVE FACEBOOK AND YOU DIDN’T HAVE TEXTING…
(audience laughing) BUT ALL OF US,
WE HAVE IT ALL.>>I STILL DON’T HAVE FACEBOOK!
(audience laughing)>>WE DON’T HAVE IT.>>BUT SHE CAN TEXT
60 WORDS A MINUTE! (audience laughing)
>>YOU HAVE TO TEXT OR YOUR KIDS WON’T
COMMUNICATE WITH YOU.>>RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’VE
EVER HAD A TEXT CONVERSATION WITH SOMEBODY SITTING
RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. (audience laughing)>>HI, MY NAME
IS CORI MEIER, I’D LIKE TO SAY THAT
I REALLY APPRECIATE SEEING
ALL OF THESE PROFESSORS. I’VE ENJOYED A LOT OF THEIR
CLASSES AND LEARNED A LOT, SO THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE
AND CONTINUING TO TEACH US, AND AS WELL AS A LOT
OF STUDENTS THAT I’VE HAD IN SOME OF MY
OTHER CLASSES. I JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT I
THINK A BIG CAUSATIONAL FACTOR IS THE LACK
OF FAMILY BONDING. I KNOW AT MY HOUSE,
I MAKE AN EFFORT, I GO WAY OUT OF MY WAY TO MAKE
SURE MY FAMILY AND MY CHILDREN, WHICH ARE SITTING RIGHT
NEXT TO ME HERE TONIGHT, SIT DOWN AT THE KITCHEN TABLE
AND TALK ABOUT THEIR LIVES, TALK ABOUT THEIR SCHOOL DAY,
TALK ABOUT MY SCHOOL DAY OR MY WORKDAY WITH THEM,
AND REALLY CONTINUE TO BOND. LIKE THE GENTLEMAN WAS
TALKING ABOUT BACK HERE, HE WALKS HIS KIDS OR TO
DRIVE HIS KIDS TO SCHOOL– WE ARE MISSING THAT. WE ARE ALL TOO BUSY WITH OUR
OWN LIVES, OUR OWN CAREERS, OUR OWN EDUCATIONS TO TAKE
THE TIME TO REALLY SIT DOWN. AND CURRENTLY,
I WORK AT PINE REST IN A
RESIDENTIAL ADOLESCENT UNIT, AND I GET A FACE SMACK
ON A REGULAR BASIS, LITERALLY, PHYSICALLY, OR EMOTIONALLY
FROM THESE CHILDREN THAT ARE LACKING
THAT FAMILY BONDING. THEY HAVE SUCH HORRIBLE
REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDERS, THEY REALLY HONESTLY THINK
THAT THE RIGHT WAY TO EXPRESS THAT THEIR EMOTION FOR THEIR
SIGNIFICANT PERSON IN THEIR LIFE IS TO PHYSICALLY ABUSE THEM. YOU KNOW, IF THEY’RE ANGRY
AT ME, PARDON MY FRENCH, BUT THEY TELL ME I’M A BITCH
AND THEN THEY TRY TO HIT ME, AND THEN FIVE MINUTES LATER,
TELL ME THEY LOVE ME. AND UNFORTUNATELY,
I HATE TO SAY IT, BUT IT’S– A BIG PART OF IT
IS THE LACK OF BONDING TOWARDS THAT MOTHER OR THAT
FATHER OR THAT AUNT OR WHOEVER ELSE WAS SUPPOSED TO
OR IS IMPORTANT IN THEIR LIFE, AND I THINK WE REALLY NEED TO
GET DOWN TO THE ROOT OF THINGS AND REALLY FIND OUT
AND TAKE TIME TO REMEMBER WHO’S IMPORTANT IN OUR LIVES,
OUR NEIGHBORS, OUR COMMUNITIES. IT DOES TAKE A VILLAGE
TO RAISE A CHILD, AND THAT CHILD DOESN’T HAVE
TO BE YOUR BIOLOGICAL CHILD. YOU CAN COME FROM THE WORST
FAMILY IN THE WORLD AND FIND LOVE FOR
ANOTHER HUMAN BEING OR ANOTHER CHILD
THAT’S RIGHT NEXT DOOR, THAT’S RIGHT
DOWN THE STREET. ALL OF OUR PROFESSORS
UP FRONT HAVE ALL TOLD US TO REACH OUR HAND OUT AND
REALLY TRY TO TAKE SOMEONE AND TAKE A MOMENT TO PULL OVER
AND HELP THAT SINGLE MOTHER BRING HER GROCERIES
AND HER BABY HOME. WE NEED TO GET OUT OF
THAT “TEXT MESSAGE” MODE AND WE REALLY NEED TO REACH DOWN
AND FIND THE LOVE FOR HUMANITY. I MEAN, I THINK THAT’S
A HUGE CAUSATIONAL FACTOR.>>HI, I’M JANELLE. I THINK A HUGE CAUSATION IS
LIKE LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY THAT WE HAVE NOWADAYS. A LOT OF MY FRIENDS, YOU KNOW,
THEY’RE YOUNG, 22, 21, 20, AND THEY’RE PISSED THAT
THEY HAVE TO PAY RENT. (audience chuckling)
LIKE, “DUDE, FOR REAL? “YOU LIVE IN YOUR PARENTS
BASEMENT, YOU USE THEIR WATER, “YOU PAY–
COME ON, HELP OUT.” I THINK OUR GENERATION,
WE BLAME THE OLDER GENERATION AND THEN WE’RE WAITING FOR
THE YOUNGER GENERATION TO FIX THE PROBLEM. WE NEED TO BE
MORE PROACTIVE. WE HAVE A PROBLEM,
LET’S FIND A SOLUTION. LET’S NOT SIT AND WAIT
FOR OUR KIDS OR THEIR KIDS TO FIND THE SOLUTION. WE DON’T WANT TO DROP– I DON’T
WANT TO HAVE KIDS ONE DAY AND WORRY THAT I’M GOING
TO DROP THEM OFF AT SCHOOL AND WORRY THAT THEY
WON’T COME HOME. YOU KNOW, I DON’T WANT MY KIDS
TO HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT. AS A GENERATION, WE NEED
TO BE MORE PROACTIVE. WE HAVE PROBLEMS,
LET’S FIX IT. LET’S STOP BLAMING OUR PARENTS
AND LET’S NOT WAIT FOR OUR KIDS TO FIND THE SOLUTION. YOU WANT TO MAKE THE WORLD
A BETTER PLACE FOR YOUR CHILD? START TODAY. LIKE DON’T WAIT. LIKE WE NEED TO BE MORE
RESPONSIBLE AS A GENERATION. WE NEED A BETTER WORK ETHIC,
WE NEED A STRONGER COMMUNITY, AND WITH LIKE WHAT JORDAN WAS
SAYING– THE FACEBOOK, TWITTER, THOUGH WHATEVER
PEOPLE DO NOWADAYS– IT JUST NEEDS
TO STOP. MY MOM REFUSES
TO TEXT. I HAVE TO CALL MY MOM
IF I NEED SOMETHING. MY MOM WILL NOT
LEARN HOW TO TEXT. IF I NEED SOMETHING FROM MY MOM,
I HAVE TO TALK TO HER. AND AS BIG OF A PAIN
AS THAT IS, I LOVE IT. THE SOUND OF
MY MOM’S VOICE… AWESOME. A TEXT MESSAGE JUST
DOES NOT SATISFY THAT. YOU KNOW, MY MOM TAUGHT
ME RESPONSIBILITY. I HAVE BILLS,
YOU PAY THEM ON TIME. AS A GENERATION, WE NEED
TO BE MORE RESPONSIBLE AND WE NEED TO TEACH
THAT TO OUR KIDS SO THEY CAN TEACH
THAT TO THEIR KIDS, AND THAT’S A BUILD
A COMMUNITY IN MY MIND.>>BY THE WAY, THAT
WAS ONE OF MY STUDENTS. (audience laughing)
AND THE ONE BEHIND HER…>>I’D LIKE TO ADD SOMETHING
THAT WE HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND. I HOSTED THE COFFEE WITH
THE CAPTAIN LAST WEEK, AND THE LOCAL PASTOR BROUGHT UP
THE FACT THAT THESE ARE NOT KIDS WHO HAVE BEEN COMMITTING
THESE MURDERS OR THE VICTIMS OF THESE SHOOTINGS. THESE ARE YOUNG ADULTS. THEY WERE ALL
OVER 18 YEARS OLD. THEY ACTUALLY AVERAGED BETWEEN
THE AGES OF 21 AND 25. SO, I DO BELIEVE WE
HAVE TO FOCUS ON OUR KIDS AND WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON THEIR
EDUCATION AND THEIR WELL-BEING. WE STILL HAVE TO
ADDRESS THIS ISSUE WITH
THE SENSELESS VIOLENCE, AND AGAIN, IT’S NOT
COMING FROM OUR KIDS. ANOTHER THING THAT I WANTED TO
ADD IS WE SHOULD CONTROL THE ACCESSIBILITY
TO GUNS, BUT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH THOSE
ISSUES WITHIN THOSE PEOPLE, BECAUSE IT’S LIKE TEARING
DOWN THE WEB WEEK AFTER WEEK INSTEAD OF KILLING
THE SPIDER. WE GET RID OF ALL THE GUNS, AND
LET’S SAY THEY USE A MIC STAND TO BEAT A PERSON
TO DEATH. GET RID OF
THE MIC STANDS. AND THEN,
IT’S SOMETHING ELSE. WE GOT TO DEAL WITH
THE REAL ISSUE WITH PEOPLE. THERE IS A LACK OF
LEADERSHIP IN OUR COMMUNITY. A LOT OF LEADERS WILL JUMP OUT
WHEN T.V. CAMERAS ARE ROLLING, AND THE REPORTERS
ARE WRITING. BUT WHEN THEY GO HOME, THOSE
REPORTERS AND THOSE TV CAMERAS ARE NOT ROLLING. THEY’RE NOWHERE
TO BE FOUND. THERE’S NO LEADERSHIP, AND THE
PEOPLE IN THE URBAN COMMUNITY FROM WHERE I’VE COME FROM,
THEY JUST DON’T TRUST PEOPLE, BECAUSE THEY SAY,
“THEY DON’T CARE. “THEY’RE NOT THERE.” SO, I WANT TO SECOND THE NOTION
OF MENTORING AND TAKING TIME TO BE A RECOGNIZABLE
FACE IN THE COMMUNITY. LEADERS BEING
RECOGNIZABLE FACES. JUST BASIC PEOPLE WHO
ARE IN THE COMMUNITY, COMING OUTSIDE OF THOSE
FOUR WALLS OF YOUR HOME, COMING OUT THE FOUR
WALLS OF YOUR CHURCH, AND BEING IN YOUR COMMUNITY
AND TAKING OWNERSHIP IN YOUR COMMUNITY. I THINK THAT’S
A GREAT START.>>HELLO. I THINK IT’S–
WELL, FIRST OF ALL, THEY SAID IN GRAND RAPIDS
THAT GANGS JUST STARTED
IN GRAND RAPIDS. AND ONE OF MY PROFESSORS– I
THINK IT WAS YOU, MISS EDWARDS? SAID THERE’S OVER 200 GANGS
IN GRAND RAPIDS. I’M OVER 30 YEARS OLD. GANGS HAVE BEEN HERE
SINCE I WAS IN ELEMENTARY, BUT THEY’RE JUST NOW
MAKING AWARE OF IT. AND YOU’VE GOT A THINK
ABOUT IT– WITH THE
MEDICAL MILE COMING ALONG, JUST TO PULL SOMETHING
OUT OF THE AIR, WITH GROWTH,
WE HAVE PLUS AND MINUS, YOU HAVE ACTION
AND REACTION. YOU WANT THE CITY
TO GROW? YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE SOME
NEGATIVES WITH THE GROWING. YOU’D GOTTA HAVE A WITNESS–
PEOPLE GET IN THESE GANGS AND GET A FELONY,
THEN THEY CAN’T GET JOBS, THEN THEY GET BORED WHEN
THEY CAN’T GET A JOB, THEY WANT MONEY, THEY CAN’T
GET THE MONEY, THEY TAKE IT. SO, THAT’S A SPIRAL EFFECT
FOR THE VIOLENCE. BASICALLY, PEOPLE BEING
LAZY AND THEY HAVE A WANT. SO, IF YOU CAN NIP IT IN
THE BUD FROM THE GET-GO, THROUGH EDUCATION,
JOBS, AND AWARENESS, HOW TO INTERACT WITH YOUR
PROBLEMS AND FRUSTRATIONS, DIFFUSE THE SITUATION
BEFORE IT HAPPENS, ALL THE VIOLENCE–
WELL, NOT ALL, BUT MOST OR SOME
SHOULD STOP.>>HI, MY NAME
IS HEATHER BELL, AND I AM A FIRST-YEAR
C.J. STUDENT HERE. I ACTUALLY MOVED TO GRAND RAPIDS
FROM TRAVERSE CITY, SO I’M FROM UP IN
HICKSVILLE THERE. (audience chuckling)
I MOVED DOWN HERE KNOWING THAT THERE
WAS PROBABLY A CHANCE THAT VIOLENCE WOULD
AFFECT MY FAMILY, BUT I STILL MOVED. I CAN TELL YOU THAT I LIVED
WITH A COLLEGE IN MY HOMETOWN, I NEVER ATTENDED… BECAUSE I DIDN’T FEEL THAT THEY
REALLY CARED ABOUT THE STUDENTS. I CAME DOWN HERE, I ATTENDED
GRCC BECAUSE THE PROFESSORS MADE ME FEEL LIKE I WAS
GOING TO GET AN EDUCATION THAT I COULD THEN
PASS DOWN TO OTHERS. I WAS THE VICTIM OF GUN
VIOLENCE WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER. MY DAD HELD
ME AT GUNPOINT. I CHOSE TO TAKE THAT
EXPERIENCE AND BUILD ON IT. I DIDN’T WANT
TO RETALIATE. I DID PUT MY DAD IN JAIL, BUT
IT WAS TO TEACH HIM A LESSON THAT HE NEEDED TO REALIZE THAT
HE WASN’T AS BIG AND BAD AS HE THOUGHT HE WAS. AND I’LL TELL YOU WHAT… I LOOK AT MY KIDS–
I HAVE A NINE-YEAR-OLD AND A SIX-YEAR-OLD–
AND I TELL THEM EVERY DAY, “YOU BE YOUR OWN PERSON. “YOU BUILD YOUR OWN LIFE
THE WAY YOU WANT IT. “IF YOU WANT TO GO AND SPEND
YOUR LIFE BEHIND BARS, “THEN THAT’S WHAT
YOU’RE GOING TO DO.” I SAID,
“BUT I WANT YOU TO KNOW “THAT YOU HAVE A MOM
THAT CARES, “YOU HAVE EDUCATION
AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. “IF YOU WANT IT,
IT’S THERE. “GO FOR IT,” AND MY DAUGHTER
IS AN “A” STUDENT, BUT SHE IS VERY VULNERABLE
TO PEER PRESSURE. AND I’LL TELL YOU WHAT,
WE JUST HAD A DISCUSSION TONIGHT THAT SHE’S GOT TO BE HER
OWN PERSON, AND SHE STILL IS NOT GETTING IT…
(laughing) BUT I’M GOING TO KEEP HAVING
THE SAME TALK WITH HER AND I’M HOPING TO GET
INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY AND DO THE SAME
WITH OTHERS. I HAVE 12 NIECES AND NEPHEWS
THAT ARE TEENAGERS RIGHT NOW. THEY ARE A HANDFUL,
BUT I LOVE THEM… AND I WILL SMACK THEM
IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD WHEN THEY STEP OUT OF LINE.
(laughing) BUT THEY STILL
COME TALK TO ME. YOU KNOW, MY NEPHEW GOT INVOLVED
IN DRUGS, CAME AND TALKED TO ME, QUIT TALKING TO ME FOR A WHILE
BECAUSE I WENT TO HIS PARENTS, BUT NOW HE’S IN THE NAVY AND
WE ARE VERY PROUD OF HIM. THAT’S WHAT I WANT TO DO–
I WANT TO REACH OUT, I WANT TO HELP OTHER TEENS
THAT HAVE THAT SAME PROBLEM, AND YOUNGER. AND I THINK THAT GRAND RAPIDS
HAS THE POTENTIAL TO DO GREAT THINGS.>>MY NAME IS ADAM BALL. I ACTUALLY COME FROM–
I’M NOT FROM GRAND RAPIDS, NEVER ATTENDED HERE UNTIL
I STARTED THE GRCC ACADEMY. I COME FROM A SMALL TOWN
OUT NEAR ST. JOHN’S. WE HEAR THIS MASS– YOU KNOW,
THE MEDIA IS ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT GUNS, GUNS, GUNS,
TOO MANY GUNS AROUND HERE. I DON’T THINK GUNS
ARE THE ISSUE. I MEAN, WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I HAD
EIGHT OR TEN GUNS ACCESSIBLE, BUT MY PARENTS TAUGHT ME,
“YOU DON’T TOUCH THEM.” YOU KNOW, I WASN’T 14 OR
15 YEARS OLD THINKING, “OH, I CAN RUN
AND GRAB A GUN “IF SOMEBODY BULLIES ME
ON THE PLAYGROUND.” I FEEL LIKE THIS YOUNG LADY
IN FRONT OF ME SAID, YOU KNOW, IT STARTS IN YOUR FAMILY. IT STARTS WITH YOU
TEACHING YOUR KIDS. YOU KNOW, MY GRANDPA MURDERED
MY GRANDMA BEFORE I WAS BORN, BUT MY MOM SAT DOWN WITH ME WHEN
I WAS FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD AND TOLD ME
ALL ABOUT GUNS. WE STILL HAD GUNS
IN THE HOUSE– IT DIDN’T MEAN THAT ALL
OF THESE MASS KILLINGS WERE GOING TO START
FROM THE GUNS, BUT SHE SAT THERE AND TOLD ME,
“HEY, YOU DON’T TOUCH THEM. “THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT’S DEADLY.” IT’S THE SAME THING WHEN YOU
GET BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CAR. SO, I FEEL LIKE THE GUNS AND
THE MAJORITY OF THE GUNS AREN’T THE PROBLEM. YOU KNOW, IT STARTS RIGHT
IN OUR INNER FAMILIES, SO THAT’S MY OPINION.>>HELLO, MY NAME IS
LAWRENCE ROBINSON, AND AS FAR AS WITH CAUSATION,
I AGREE WITH MOST OF THE PANEL. BUT FOR MY OPINION,
I THINK THE MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUE IS THE BIGGEST, BECAUSE I’VE SUBBED IN
THE GRAND RAPIDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR SEVEN YEARS AND
I SPECIFICALLY GO TO
THE SCHOOLS IN MY AREA, WHICH IS IN THE SOUTHEAST SIDE–
MULICK, SHAWNEE, LIKE– NOT SHAWNEE, BUT MULICK,
CAMPUS, OTTAWA HILLS, AND PRIMARILY SCHOOLS
WITH MINORITIES AND SOCIALLY ECONOMIC
POOR PEOPLE. AND ONE THING I NOTICE WHEN
I DO GO TO, FOR INSTANCE, A KINDERGARTEN CLASS,
THERE’S MENTAL ISSUE PROBLEMS. YOU LOOK AT THE CAUSATION– THERE’S A CAUSE
FROM THESE PROBLEMS, WHICH ARE THE
SINGLE-PARENT HOMES, THE MOTHERS THAT ARE ADDICTED TO
WHETHER IT’S CRACK OR HEROIN OR METH, METHAMPHETAMINES,
AND I JUST THINK WE NEED TO PUT, AS CRIMINAL JUSTICE MAJORS
AND AS STUDENTS, FACULTY, WE NEED TO MAKE MORE
OF A PUSH FOR POLICY, BECAUSE WITHOUT POLICY,
WE CANNOT MAKE ANYTHING HAPPEN. WE CAN’T ENFORCE, WE CAN’T
PUT MORE COPS ON THE STREETS TO ENFORCE CRIMES
WHEN NEEDED, AND LOOKING AT
LIKE A 12th GRADER, YOU CAN SEE FROM KINDERGARTEN
TO 12th GRADE THEIR DEVELOPMENT. WE LOSE THEM SOMEWHERE. WE LOSE THEM IN MIDDLE
SCHOOL SOMEWHERE. A LOT OF THEM ARE LOST
BY THE SIXTH GRADE, SO I THINK WE JUST
HAVE TO BECOME AWARE AND
SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH MORE BECAUSE AS WE KNOW,
MENTAL HEALTH– WE REALLY HAVEN’T– AND I CAN’T
SPEAK FOR ANY OTHER COUNTRY, BUT IN AMERICA, WE HAVEN’T
PUT THAT AT THE FOREFRONT FOR OUR STUDENTS… TO EVEN PRETTY MUCH GIVE
A BASE OF WHERE TO START, BECAUSE EVERYONE
IS NOT CRAZY. LET ME JUST RESTATE THAT. THESE STUDENTS COMING UP,
THEY HAVE ISSUES. IT’S NOT THAT THEY’RE BAD,
IT’S NOT THAT THEY’RE JUST– THEY CAN’T BE
CONTROLLED. THERE’S CHEMICAL IMBALANCES. BECAUSE IF YOU
ARE A CRACK BABY, MOST LIKELY YOU DO HAVE
SOME CHEMICAL IMBALANCES. THAT’S ALL I WANT TO SAY, AND JUST TO MAKE AWARENESS
OF MENTAL HEALTH.>>ONE MORE, THEN
WE HAVE TO MOVE ON.>>HELLO, MY NAME IS SAMANTHA,
AND I THINK ANOTHER BIG PROBLEM IS TEACHING OUR YOUTH
PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS. A LOT OF THESE CRIMES THAT ARE
BEING COMMITTED ARE FOR REASONS THAT WE WOULD THINK
OF AS TRIVIAL– THE PRICE OF CIGARETTES,
THROWING A SNOWBALL. IF WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW
TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES
STARTING IN CHILDHOOD, THEY’LL KNOW THAT WHEN THEY
GET TO BE 17 OR 18 YEARS OLD AND START HAVING TO DEAL
WITH THEM ON A REGULAR BASIS. EVEN MY GENERATION, A LOT OF
THEM DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THEIR LIFE. ONCE THEY’RE KICKED
OUT OF THEIR HOME, THEY DON’T KNOW
WHAT TO DO. THEY RELY ON THEIR
PARENTS WAY TOO MUCH. IF WE START TEACHING
CHILDREN AT A YOUNG AGE
HOW TO DEAL WITH LIFE, HOW TO MAKE CHOICES,
HOW TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES, IT COULD SOLVE A LOT
OF PROBLEMS I THINK. THAT’S ALL.>>THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT
THE SCRIPTED QUESTIONS IS THAT SOMETIMES
WHAT HAPPENS IS THEY GET ANSWERED
BEFORE WE GET THERE, SO I’M GOOD TO THROW
A LITTLE CURVEBALL. WE’RE GOING TO DEAL
WITH THIS ONE THAT SAYS, “WHAT SOLUTIONS CAN WE OFFER
OUR COMMUNITY TO HELP PREVENT?” BUT THERE WAS A WORD THAT
SEVERAL PEOPLE USED HERE, IS THAT WE HAVE
LOTS OF RESOURCES, AND I’D THINK WE’D BE REMISS
TONIGHT WITHOUT MENTIONING WHAT SOME OF THOSE ARE. SO, WHILE YOU’RE THINKING HERE,
I’M GOING TO ASK EACH ONE OF YOU TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WOULD
YOU DO TO PREVENT IT, AND ALSO LIST MAYBE ONE OR TWO
OF YOUR FAVORITE RESOURCES. IN RETURN,
WHAT WE’LL DO, I BELIEVE– IF THINGS ARE WORKING– THIS
IS ALL BEING VIDEOTAPED HERE. I’LL GO BACK AND WE’LL GRAB
ALL OF THESE RESOURCES, AND BESIDES THE VIDEO, IF YOU
WANT TO GO LOOK AT A SEGMENT, WE’LL HAVE A LIST
OF THOSE RESOURCES WHICH ARE AT LEAST AS THE
PANEL’S FAVORITE FOR DEALING
WITH SOME OF THE VIOLENCE THAT MIGHT BE AVAILABLE
RIGHT HERE IN WEST MICHIGAN AND GRAND RAPIDS. SO, DOES ANYONE HAVE A THOUGHT
ALREADY OR ARE READY TO GO? YOU CAN’T THROW THEM–
YOU CAN’T CHANGE THAT. (audience laughing)
IT’S CALLED “OLD AGE.”>>OKAY. NOW, IT’S NOT GUN VIOLENCE,
BUT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE’VE TALKED ABOUT HAS
BEEN WHAT KINDS OF THINGS CAUSE OTHER
KINDS OF THINGS, SO I’M GOING TO THROW
OUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE– I HAVE
A FAVORITE RESOURCE. THERE IS A COUPLE
OF THEM. NOW OBVIOUSLY, THERE IS SOME
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAMS THAT RUN THROUGH THE Y,
BUT THERE IS ONE THAT’S RUN BY
THE 61st DISTRICT COURT. IT’S CALLED THE DOMESTIC
ASSAULT RESPONSE TEAM. IT GOES TO THE SCENE OF
EVERY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE, IF THE POLICE
OFFICER CALLS THEM, IN THE CITY
OF GRAND RAPIDS. THEY ASSIST THE VICTIM,
TAKES THEM TO SHELTER, GIVE THEM EMERGENCY FOOD, HAS
A FOOD PANTRY, BUY HIS DIAPERS. YOU KNOW, ESSENTIALLY
PROVIDES REALLY GOOD RESOURCES TO THE VICTIM OF THAT
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SO THAT THEY DON’T IMMEDIATELY
GO BACK TO THE PERPETRATOR OR DON’T HAVE TO
IMMEDIATELY GO BACK BECAUSE SO MUCH OF IT
IS AN ECONOMIC ISSUE, AND ALSO PROVIDES A LOT
OF CRISIS COUNSELING, SO THAT HOPEFULLY
YOU MAKE A BETTER DECISION
ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO CONTINUE
OR EXPOSE YOUR OWN KIDS TO THAT VIOLENT SITUATION. THAT’S MY FAVORITE RESOURCE.>>WELL, AND YOU’RE
TOO HUMBLE, JAN, BECAUSE WE SHOULD BASICALLY SAY
THAT YOU STARTED THAT PROGRAM BACK IN THE 61st DISTRICT
COURT, I UNDERSTAND.>>THAT’S CORRECT.
(audience laughing)>>AND JUST FOR
EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES, I KNOW THAT I’VE HAD LOTS OF
STUDENTS WHO HAVE VOLUNTEERED, AND YOU GO THROUGH
SOME THOROUGH TRAINING. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE
OPPORTUNITIES TO TOUCH SOMEONE, EVEN WHILE SITTING
AND GOING TO SCHOOL?>>YOU KNOW,
PART OF THE FUNDING FOR THE
DOMESTIC ASSAULT RESPONSE TEAM IS IT REQUIRES
VOLUNTEER HOURS, SO IF ANY OF YOU ARE EVER
THINKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, “WHERE AM I GOING TO
DO MY INTERNSHIP? “HOW AM I GOING
TO DO SOMETHING “IN A MAYBE NONTRADITIONAL
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AREA?” KEEP IT IN MIND,
BECAUSE IT EXPOSES YOU TO
WORKING WITH POLICE OFFICERS, TO SHELTER PEOPLE, ALSO
WORKING WITH A LOT OF VICTIMS. THEY HAVE TO HAVE VOLUNTEER
HOURS– THEY WORK AT NIGHT, THEY WORK DURING THE DAY,
SO IT BECOMES SOMETHING THAT FITS SOMEBODY’S
SCHEDULE VERY WELL. THEY WORK IN
THE COURTROOMS. SO, IT CAN TAKE
MULTIPLE PEOPLE. YOU GO TO COURT
WITH SOME PEOPLE. AND YEAH, AS GARY
MENTIONED, SURE, IT’S A PROGRAM I STARTED
AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU IT’S PROBABLY ONE OF THE ONES
THAT I’M THE MOST PROUD OF IN TERMS OF DOING IT, BECAUSE I THINK IT’S TOUCHED
AN AWFUL LOT OF VICTIMS. NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.>>I THINK MANY
OF US CAN ATTEST TO WHEN WE’VE GOTTEN
INTO TROUBLE IN OUR LIVES, MUCH OF IT CAN BE
ATTRIBUTED TO BOREDOM, NO MEANINGFUL OUTLET. IT IS BY THE GRACE OF GOD
THAT I AM A COP BECAUSE I USED TO GET INTO A
HELL OF A LOT OF TROUBLE… (audience chuckling)
AND I REMEMBER THE TIMES I DID GET IN TROUBLE, I WAS
NOT DOING ANYTHING MEANINGFUL. I DIDN’T HAVE
A POSITIVE OUTLET. THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS
OF GREATER GRAND RAPIDS, AND WE HAVE TWO SPECIFIC CENTERS
AT THE SEIDMAN CENTER AND THE STEIL CENTER. AND THEN,
THERE’S OTHER PROGRAMS–
RECREATION REAPS REWARDS, THE KROC CENTER DOWN
ON THE SOUTHWEST SIDE– ARE ALL MEANINGFUL OUTLETS
FOR YOUTH IN OUR SOCIETY, SPECIFICALLY GRAND RAPIDS. THERE ARE SIMILAR
OUTLETS NATIONWIDE. WE NEED TO LINK OUR YOUTH
TO THESE PROGRAMS, AND MANY OF THEM ARE
CENTERED AROUND ATHLETICS, BUT THERE ARE OTHER
OUTLETS AS WELL, TIED TO OTHER
RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES– MENTORING,
HOMEWORK CLUBS. ALL OF THOSE I THINK WILL
PROVIDE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, FOR STUDENTS, OUTLETS
THAT WILL CREATE SITUATIONS IN WHICH THEIR TIME IS USED
IN A MEANINGFUL MANNER, AS OPPOSED TO BEING
BORED OUT IN THE STREET AND HATCHING SOME HAREBRAINED
PLAN TO CREATE MAYHEM, WHICH I DID
WHEN I WAS YOUNG. AND SECOND OF ALL, AND I KNOW
THIS IS SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT FOR MUCH OF OUR SOCIETY,
PARTICULARLY THE COMMUNITY THAT I WORK IN, IS–
A RESOURCE IS THE POLICE, AND I REALIZE
THERE’S AN ADVERSARIAL
RELATIONSHIP OFTEN TIMES, AND I UNDERSTAND THE HISTORICAL
PERSPECTIVE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IN OUR SOCIETY WITH RESPECT TO
CERTAIN SEGMENTS OF OUR SOCIETY, BUT I THINK WE DO A FAIRLY
DECENT JOB IN SOLVING THE PROBLEMS OF
OUR COMMUNITY. DO WE HAVE OUR PROBLEMS
HERE IN GRAND RAPIDS? ABSOLUTELY. ARE THERE POLICE OFFICERS THAT
ARE NOT THE MOST RESPECTFUL? CERTAINLY. BUT PLEASE RELY ON US. DON’T FEEL APPREHENSIVE
TO CALL THE POLICE, TO GIVE US INFORMATION, AND THAT’S REALLY PART OF
THE CRUX OF THIS PROBLEM, IS THAT WE’VE BECOME
ALL TOO TOLERANT, LIKE I SAID BEFORE,
AND THERE IS A LACK OF
TRUST WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY IN THE WAY SOME OF THESE
PROBLEMS CAN BE DEALT WITH. BUT IF WE DEAL
WITH IT AS A COMMUNITY AND GET THE POLICE INVOLVED
WITH SOME OF THESE PROBLEMS, WE CAN HELP STEM
THE TIDE OF VIOLENCE. LASTLY, I JUST WANT TO SAY
WE’VE TALKED A LOT ABOUT MALES IN OUR COMMUNITY. IN THE LAST 6 TO 7 YEARS, I’VE SEEN A PROLIFERATION
OF FEMALE VIOLENCE. WHEN GIRLS
USED TO FIGHT– AGAIN, I’M DATING
MYSELF A LITTLE BIT– IT WAS CHIRPING
BACK AND FORTH, A LITTLE BACKSTABBING,
A LITTLE TALKING. NOW, THE WAY I SEE GIRLS FIGHT
AND INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. THEY’RE EMULATING THEIR MALE
ROLE MODELS, IF YOU WILL, THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. I THINK WE’RE GOING TO LOSE A
LOT WITH RESPECT TO THIS ISSUE IF WE DON’T INCLUDE
FEMALES IN OUR DISCUSSION.>>AS FAR AS A COMMUNITY
ORGANIZATION OR ONE THAT
I WOULD SAY IS BEST, I THINK ANYONE THAT IS
TRYING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE OR CHANGE IS THE BEST. I THINK THAT LATELY WITH
A LOT OF THE VIOLENCE
THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON, YOU HAVE A LOT MORE RESOURCES
THAT ARE BECOMING AVAILABLE. WITH “BEYOND THE VIOLENCE,” THAT
WAS ON THE NEWS THE OTHER DAY, THEY LISTED TONS
OF ORGANIZATIONS TO STOP THE VIOLENCE. YOU HAVE SO MANY CHURCHES
IN THE COMMUNITY NOW THAT ARE ACTUALLY STEPPING UP
AND DOING SOMETHING. AND THEN, YOU HAVE ORGANIZATIONS
THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND, YOU HAVE BIG BROTHERS AND BIG
SISTERS, AND THINGS LIKE THAT. ANYTHING THAT YOU CAN TAKE A
PART OF AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND MAKE A CHANGE IN SOMEONE’S
LIFE, TO ME, I’M ALL FOR IT. IT DOESN’T MATTER YOUR RACE
OR SEX OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. YOU CAN MAKE
A DIFFERENCE. TO ME, IF ANY ORGANIZATION IS
WORKING FOR A BETTER COMMUNITY, I THINK THAT’S
A GOOD ORGANIZATION.>>I HAVE A RESOURCE THAT
IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE. IT’S ACTUALLY A GROUP
CALLED C.L.E.A.R., THAT’S ACTUALLY AN ACRONYM
FOR “COALITION, LEADERSHIP, “EDUCATION,
AND REHABILITATION.” IT IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN OUR
REENTRY PROGRAM HERE IN KENT COUNTY AND ACTUALLY GRAND
RAPIDS POLICE DEPARTMENT. I CO-FACILITATE A GROUP WITH
TERRY DIXON, A POLICE OFFICER, FORMER LIEUTENANT
RALPH MASON, AND PASTOR BLAKE
IN THE BACK THERE. EVERY THURSDAY AT BATES PLACE
FROM 9:00 TILL 11:00, AND WHAT WE DO IS WE FACILITATE
A DISCUSSION WITH ANY MALE THAT IS AT RISK FOR ANY FORM
OF VIOLENCE, AND IT’S LED, BY AND LARGE, BY MEN WHO HAVE
BEEN RELEASED FROM PRISON. WE HAVE INDIVIDUALS,
LEADERS IN THIS PROGRAM THAT HAVE SERVED OVER 50 YEARS
IN MICHIGAN’S PRISONS. WE HAVE A COUPLE OF FOLKS–
THE VAST MAJORITY, THEY’VE BEEN INCARCERATED
BETWEEN 15 AND 30 YEARS, AND THEY COME EVERY SINGLE
THURSDAY AT BATES PLACE, WHICH IS A BUILDING BETWEEN
BATES AND FRANKLIN, ATTACHED TO FIRST
C.R.C. CHURCH, AND IT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST
EYE-OPENING PROGRAMS THAT I’VE EVER SEEN
ON EITHER SIDE, BECAUSE IT HAS LIVING,
BREATHING WHAT WE CALL
“RETURNING CITIZENS,” MEN WHO HAVE BEEN RETURNED
BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY, ACTUALLY DISCUSSING THE WAY
FORWARD WITH THEIR LIVES, WITH YOUNG FOLKS, WE GO
TO ALTERNATIVE DIRECTIONS,
AND WE BRING THE MEN FROM THEIR EVERY DAY– I MEAN,
EVERY THURSDAY TO THE PROGRAM. WE FACILITATE EMPLOYMENT WITH
THE RECYCLING CENTER HERE IN KENT COUNTY, AND MANY OTHER
DIFFERENT PROGRAMS THAT WE DO. BUT THIS HAS FAST BECOME
A RESOURCE IN OUR COMMUNITY. SOMETIMES WE CALL IT
OUR “BEST KEPT SECRET,” BECAUSE MANY FOLKS HAVE
NEVER HEARD ABOUT IT. BUT EACH AND EVERY THURSDAY,
WE’RE THERE, WE ARE FULL, WE HAVE A NICE MEAL,
AND WE JUST INVITE FOLKS FROM THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, FROM
EVERY ASPECT OF OUR COMMUNITY, AND IT’S GREAT TO SEE
LAW ENFORCEMENT INTERACTING WITH FORMER WHAT WE CALL,
“RETURNING CITIZENS.” TWICE A MONTH, WE TAKE
THIS SAME GROUP BACK INTO
IONIA BELLAMY CREEK PRISON, AND THEY ACTUALLY TALK
ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES THAT THEY HAD AFTER THEY
WERE RELEASED FROM PRISON. SO, THAT’S A GREAT RESOURCE.>>TWO RESOURCES THAT
I COME INTO CONTACT WITH, BECAUSE I HAVE CLIENTS
WHO HAVE ATTENDED THEM OR HAVE REFERRED THEM–
WE TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, AND THAT’S THE WHOLE
DISCUSSION UNTO ITSELF. BUT NETWORK 180 HAS
BEEN A GOOD PROGRAM, HAS BEEN AN EXCELLENT PROGRAM, AND ALTHOUGH IT’S NOT
A PERFECT PROGRAM, IT SERVES A GOOD SEGMENT
OF THE POPULATION WHO
REQUIRE THOSE SERVICES. THE SALVATION
ARMY PROGRAM IS ANOTHER
EXCELLENT PROGRAM. I HAVE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE
NOT ONLY THERE FULL-TIME, BUT THEY HAVE A DAY REPORTING
CENTER WHERE THEY CAN GO ON A DAILY BASIS AND
THEY CAN CHECK IN. MEL TROTTER MINISTRIES IS AN
EXCELLENT ORGANIZATION DOWNTOWN, SERVING AN UNDER-SERVED
POPULATION, TO BE QUITE HONEST. SO, THOSE ARE JUST A FEW THAT,
OFF THE TOP OF MY MIND– OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD
I SHOULD SAY– THAT I CAN RECOMMEND
AND PUT FORTH.>>JUST TO NAME
A FEW MORE– SOME OF THE OTHER PROGRAMS
OR RESOURCES, I KNOW NELAND AVENUE CHURCH–
A LOT OF OUR CHURCH– OR PROGRAMS– CHURCHES–
AREA CHURCHES HAVE A LOT
OF YOUTH PROGRAMS THAT ARE MADE AVAILABLE
FOR NOT JUST THE YOUTH, BUT ALSO FOR THE
PARENTS AND ADULTS. SO, THERE’S A LOT
OF RESOURCES THERE. I KNOW NELAND AVENUE CHURCH
DOES A LOT WITH THE COMMUNITY. ALSO, URBAN MINISTRIES,
WHICH IS LOCATED– I BELIEVE IT’S AFFILIATED
WITH CALVARY CHURCH, AND THEY BUS OR
TRANSPORT KIDS WITHIN THE GREATER GRAND RAPIDS
AREA TO THEIR CHURCH, AND THERE’S A LOT OF RESOURCES
THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP. ALSO, YOUNG LIFE, WHICH IS A
MEN’S GROUP THAT IS PROVIDED OR IS NOW BEING ADVERTISED
IN SOME OF THE SCHOOLS, THE SCHOOL SETTINGS. THERE ARE MANY CAMPS. SOMEBODY ALREADY
MENTIONED THE KROC CENTER. THE Y.W.C.A.,
THEY HAVE A GIRLS PROGRAM. IT USED TO BE
CALLED “GIRLS, INC.” I’M NOT SURE– I KNOW
THAT THEY WORK WITH GIRLS RANGING FROM AGE 12 TO 17,
AND MAYBE YOUNGER, BUT THE GIRLS, INC. PROGRAM
AT THE Y.W.C.A. SO, THERE’S A LOT OF
RESOURCES, AGAIN, THAT ARE MADE AVAILABLE. AND THEN, IF YOU ALL WANT TO
BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION, I WOULD SAY AGAIN–
AND CHALLENGE YOU ALL TO GET INVOLVED,
TO VOLUNTEER. I KNOW THAT ONE OF
THE THINGS THAT THEY’RE
DOING IN REGARDS TO– LIKE, IF YOU WANT TO
VOLUNTEER IN YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL,
MIDDLE SCHOOL OR HIGH SCHOOL, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SIMPLY
COMPLETE A BACKGROUND CHECK. THAT’S IT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE
ANY KIDS OR ANY FAMILY, BUT JUST HAVE THE
HEART AND THE PASSION, AND YOU CAN VOLUNTEER
IN THE LOCAL SCHOOLS. IN THE LOCAL SCHOOLS,
THERE’S ALSO FOOD PANTRIES THAT ARE MADE AVAILABLE
TO ASSIST FAMILIES. ALSO, THE URBAN LEAGUE, WHICH IS LOCATED RIGHT IN
THE HEART OF GRAND RAPIDS THAT IS ALSO
MADE AVAILABLE. BUT IF YOU ALL WANT
TO HELP, VOLUNTEER. VOLUNTEER IN YOUR LOCAL
COMMUNITIES AND IN YOUR SCHOOL. THANK YOU.
>>THANK YOU. I DON’T KNOW IF SOME
OF YOU NOTICED OR NOT, BUT ONE OF THE ADVANTAGES OF
BEING THE LAST ONE ON THE LIST FOR THE SYMPOSIUM HERE IS THE FACT THAT WE GET
TO CHANGE THE RULES, AND WE DID AN AUDIBLE, THE MEMBERS OF THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. AND IF YOU NOTICED, IT WAS
PUBLISHED AS A SYMPOSIUM ON GUN VIOLENCE, AND
WE KIND OF PULLED THAT GUN AND PUT IT ASIDE AND
TALKED ABOUT VIOLENCE. AND WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS THE
FACT THAT GUNS ARE ONE AVENUE OF VIOLENCE THAT
WE DEAL WITH. YES, IT’S COME TO
THE FOREFRONT BECAUSE OF
SOME OF THE MASS SHOOTINGS AND THE DIALOGUE FROM
THE NATIONAL LEVEL ON DOWN, BUT AS THE GOOD PASTOR
SAID BACK DOWN THERE, “IF WE FIND A WAY TO TAKE
ALL THE GUNS OFF THE STREETS, “THEY’RE GOING TO FIND SOMETHING
ELSE TO USE AS A WEAPON “AND SO FORTH.” SO, VIOLENCE AND OF
ITSELF IS THE TOPIC, BUT I DO WANT TO
SELL ANYBODY SHORT. IF YOU CAME HERE PASSIONATELY
TO TALK ABOUT GUNS, I WANTED TO MAKE SURE
THAT WE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT, THAT WE KNEW WHAT WE DID, AND
IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING FOR US… THAT YOU SHOULD PROBABLY
RAISE YOUR HAND HERE. THERE’S A COUPLE OF THEM.>>(indistinct speaking).
>>HANG ON A SECOND. (audience laughing) YEAH, THEY SAY
I’M LOUD, TOO.>>I JUST WANTED TO SAY
THAT IT’S BEEN FASCINATING AND I REALLY APPRECIATE THE
OPPORTUNITY TO COME AND LISTEN TO ALL THE DIFFERENT
POINTS OF VIEWS, BUT WE STILL– I FIRMLY
BELIEVE WE’VE TALKED A LOT ABOUT WHAT THE DIFFERENT
ROOT CAUSES AND TRIGGERS
OF VIOLENCE ARE, BUT WE STILL HAVE TO REMEMBER
THAT GUNS AND FIREARMS ARE STILL THE MOST COMMON AND
THE MOST LETHAL INSTRUMENT THAT’S BEING USED
IN THE VIOLENCE, AND THAT GUNS STILL REMAIN ONE
OF THE LEAST REGULATED PRODUCTS IN OUR AMERICAN MARKET. THAT HAS TO BE PART
OF THE DISCUSSION. IT REALLY DOES. AND I TOTALLY AGREE THAT
PEOPLE WILL HURT EACH OTHER WITH A CHAIR,
ANYTHING, BUT WHEN YOU’RE IN
THAT MOMENT OF DESPAIR, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE,
ANGER, WHATEVER IT IS, AND YOU HAVE ONE GUN,
TEN GUNS. I’M NOT SAYING, “TAKE AWAY
ALL GUNS,” BELIEVE ME. I THINK WE CAN BE RESPECTFUL
OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT. BUT WHEN YOU’RE IN THAT MOMENT
OF DESPAIR AND YOU’RE ANGRY, IT’S SO MUCH EASIER
TO TAKE A LIFE WITH A GUN THAT’S SITTING RIGHT
THERE AND IS AVAILABLE, AND I THINK THAT HAS TO
BE PART OF THE DISCUSSION, THAT WE’VE ALLOWED
310 MILLION GUNS THE FLOOD OUR COUNTRY. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE, AND THAT HAS
TO BE PART OF THE DISCUSSION, AND THAT HAS TO
MAKE A DIFFERENCE. WE’VE REGULATED EVERY OTHER
PRODUCT ON THE MARKET– MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING,
WE HAVE LIMITS, WE HAVE ACCEPTED LIMITS,
SPEED LIMITS. WE CAN’T SAY WE WANT TO SPEED
AND GO 200 MILES AN HOUR. THERE’S LAWS
AGAINST THAT. THERE HAS TO BE SOME
DISCUSSION OF WHAT THE IMPACT OF JUST THE SHEER VOLUME
AND EASE OF ACCESS TO GUNS IS, AND HOW IT IMPACTS
VIOLENCE IN OUR COUNTRY. THANK YOU.>>MY NAME IS TOM. I GRADUATED FROM HERE
IN 2010. WELL, YESTERDAY’S THING
WASN’T SO GOOD. THE FIRST ONE WAS GOOD,
TODAY WAS MOSTLY GOOD, BUT… (audience chuckling)
WELL, SOME OF THE STUFF– EVERYBODY’S GOT
A DIFFERENT OPINION. BUT AS FAR AS GUNS GO,
I THINK THERE’S PROBABLY
A LOT MORE DRUNK DRIVERS AND PEOPLE COMMITTING
CRIMES WITH CARS THAN THERE ARE WITH GUNS
IN THIS COUNTRY. DECEMBER 7, 2005,
I WAS LEAVING A HUNTING SPOT AND A GUY WENT OFF THE ROAD
AND RAN ME AND MY DOG OVER ON PURPOSE
IN MACOMB COUNTY. I MEAN, HE WENT 9 FEET
OFF THE ROAD, HIT MY DOG, SKIDDED 150 FEET,
WENT ANOTHER 30 FEET, BOUNCED OFF A TREE TO A STOP,
AND HE DID NOT GET A TICKET. THE COP SHOWED UP
ABOUT AN HOUR LATE AND HE WAS BUDDIES
WITH THE GUY, AND HE FILLED OUT
THE POLICE REPORT. IT SAYS I RAN OUT
OF THE WOODS AND KNOCKED
THE GUY’S CAR OFF THE ROAD. SO, BASICALLY SPEAKING,
I HAD A CIVIL SUIT WHERE I BASICALLY
SUED MYSELF… WHICH WAS GREAT,
BECAUSE I HAD INSURANCE AND THEY DIDN’T
HAVE BARELY ANY. AND SO, I GOT A LITTLE PITTANCE
AND IT’S ON THE RECORD THAT I TESTIFIED THAT HE KILLED
MY DOG ON PURPOSE, AND THAT’S PROBABLY ALL
I’LL EVER GET OUT OF IT, AND I WENT TWO ATTORNEY
GENERAL’S TO FILL
OUT THE POLICE REPORT THAT THE COP FILLED OUT,
AND I GOT NOWHERE. SO, AT ANY RATE, THERE’S A LOT
MORE ISSUES AND PROBLEMS WITH IT THAN JUST GUNS
IN THIS COUNTRY. AND SO, I GUESS THAT’S
BASICALLY ALL I WANT TO SAY. OH, BUT PEOPLE DON’T
NEED 30 ROUND CLIPS, BUT IT WOULD BE NICE
IF PEOPLE WOULD STOP
MAKING THE 30 ROUND CLIPS, BECAUSE I FIGURE– WELL, ANYONE
WHO’S BEEN NEAR A GUN STORE, WE HAVE RECORDS
GUN SALES RIGHT NOW. IT WAS OFF THE CHARTS–
YOU CAN’T HARDLY
GO TO HARDWARE STORE– THERE’S ALL KINDS OF
PEOPLE BUYING THESE– THE PEOPLE THAT YOU’D
LEAST WANT TO HAVE GUNS
ARE BUYING GUNS. SO, BUT AT
ANY RATE, THANKS.>>THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS,
BECAUSE YOU ARE ACTUALLY– THAT’S THE REASON THEY WON’T
LET ME UP ON THE STAGE TONIGHT, BECAUSE AS SOON
AS THIS CAME UP, I WANTED TO TALK
ABOUT DRUNK DRIVERS BECAUSE THEY
CLAIM MORE LIVES. BUT THIS IS THE DIALOGUE
WE HAVE TONIGHT. I THINK WE HAVE A NEW SUBJECT
FOR THE NEXT TIME, RIGHT? WE GOT TIME FOR ONE
MORE TO KEEP WITHIN OUR–>>I’VE GOT A MICROPHONE
RIGHT NOW, SO I’M GONNA GO. (audience laughing)
I’M SORRY– IT WAS GIVEN TO ME,
SO I FIGURED I’LL JUST GO. (audience laughing) I JUST WANT TO CURTAIL WHAT
THE YOUNG LADY SAID EARLIER. SHE SAID THAT GUNS SHOULD BE THE
FOREFRONT OF THE CONVERSATION, AND THAT WAS WHAT MOST OF US
CAME HERE FOR TONIGHT. BUT I JUST WANT TO NOTE
THAT IT’S SO EASY TO SAY, “LET’S REGULATE GUNS,”
AND IT PROBABLY IS
AS FAR AS MAKING SURE THAT THEY’RE REGISTERED AND
THE PROPER PEOPLE HAVE THEM. BUT THE TOUGHEST PART OF
REGULATING GUNS IS MANPOWER. IT REQUIRES MORE POLICING, IT REQUIRES MORE PEOPLE ON
THE STREET TO RESPOND TO THESE. BUT FROM WHAT I’M READING, MORE
COPS ARE COMING OFF THE STREET THAN COPS THAT ARE
GOING ON TO THE STREET. SO, SIGN MORE MILLAGES,
GET MORE COPS ON THE STREET, AND THAT MAY IMPACT
THE GUNS ON THE STREET. SO, THAT WAS JUST
MY POINT ON THAT.>>I SAID ONE MORE, SO
THAT WAS ONE MORE OF MINE.>>(indistinct speaking).>>YOU EACH GET 30 SECONDS. GO AHEAD.>>(indistinct speaking).
(audience laughing)>>I’M CHESTER LOWE AND I HAVE BEEN WITH
THE COMMUNITY ACTION
PROGRAM IN THE PAST, WHICH IS NO LONGER HERE,
AND I WAS A YOUTH COORDINATOR. SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT WE
LOOK AT HAVING TO DO WITH GUNS AND VIOLENCE
IN THE COMMUNITY– I THINK YOU’RE TOUCHING
ON ALL THE GOOD POINTS. I THINK THERE ARE
A FEW POINTS THAT HAVEN’T
BEEN BROUGHT FORTH– I SHOULD SAY
A COUPLE OF POINTS. ONE DID TOUCH ON IT–
IT HAD TO DO WITH EGOTISM. A LOT OF THOSE SHOOTINGS, A LOT
OF THE VIOLENCE THAT GOES ON, WHETHER IT’S SHOOTING,
STABBING, HITTING, EVEN DRIVING HAS
TO DO WITH THE EGO. PEOPLE WHO ARE HURT, FOR
ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, MENTALLY OR EMOTIONALLY TAKE IT
OUT ON PEOPLE IN THE STREETS OR IN THEIR HOMES
OR EVEN IN SCHOOLS. IT’S SOMETHING THAT
NEEDS TO BE DEALT WITH. ANOTHER HAS TO DO
WITH ANOTHER “E,” WHICH IS EMPLOYMENT
OR ECONOMICS. WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE
INCOME AND YOU’RE NOT
ALLOWED TO BE EMPLOYED, FOR ONE REASON
OR ANOTHER, AND YOU’RE ECONOMICALLY
DEPRIVED OR CHALLENGED, YOU BECOME VIOLENT. NOT NECESSARILY ALL THE TIME,
BUT MOST PEOPLE DO. NOW, HOW DO WE SOLVE THAT
KIND OF ISSUE OR PROBLEM? I THINK IT TAKES,
LIKE YOU SAID, A VILLAGE. AND SOMETIMES, WE HAVE
TO DEAL WITH THE WAYS LAWS HAVE BEEN MADE OR REGULATIONS
HAVE DEVELOPED, PREVENTING PEOPLE
FROM BEING EMPLOYED, PREVENTING PEOPLE FROM
FEELING GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES, WHICH IS THE EGOTISTICAL PART. AND WE HAD PROGRAMS TO DEAL
WITH THAT IN THE PAST. I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED
TO THEM WHEN I WAS AWAY FOR THE 20 YEARS. I’M BACK NOW
FROM PITTSBURGH. IN PITTSBURGH, WE HAD
SITUATIONS LIKE THAT, TOO, AND WE HAD PROGRAMS. REACHING OUT IN THE COMMUNITY
AND INVITING PEOPLE IN. THEY WERE DROP-IN CENTERS.

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