COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Council President Shannon G. Hardin held a news briefing Thursday morning about safety, violence and a spike on homicides in the city.
They were joined by representatives from the neighborhoods and police departments.
Ginther began the briefing by stating that while violence is not unique to Columbus, it is being seen around the country.
“But this is our home! And these are the realities we as a community are facing,” said Ginther.
Ginther stated the city is taking several initiatives to curb the violence, including new PSA videos, strategic interventions to reduce violence and improve public safety, minimize arrests and incarcerations, and strengthen relations between police and communities.
Ginther also announced a six-month analysis to create a snapshot of who is driving the violence in the city. The date provided will be utilized to in violence prevention as part of the Columbus Comprehensive Neighborhood Safety Strategy, which was developed after a record number of 143 homicides in 2017.
There have been more than 130 homicides in Columbus this year, with the average age of the victim being 24, according to Ginther. The average age of the victim in 2017 was 37.
Earlier this week, Hardin issued a strongly worded statement after a car in Italian Village filled with children was shot at 25 times.
“If you shoot up a car full of little kids, then you’re going to get locked up or end up dead in the streets. Violence only leads to more violence. Families are being torn apart because of this ****. For the love of God, put the guns down.”COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SHANNON HARDIN
During Thursday’s briefing, Hardin compared the violence in the city to the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID has killed nearly 500 people in our city, gun violence has killed more than 130,” said Hardin. “Both disproportionality harm Black families. These are both public health calamities.”
Hardin also asked for everyone in the city to come together to help stop the violence.
“Columbus, we will get through this. It may not be better tomorrow, or in a week, but I promise you, we will get through this.”
Carla Williams-Scott, Director of Columbus’ Department of Neighborhoods, also joined Thursday’s news conference. She spoke after Hardin.
“Families are shattered, neighborhoods are hurting and with the loss of so many young people, there are birthdays that won’t happen, other milestones that won’t be recognized and the saddest thing is that there are dreams that won’t be recognized by these young people,” she said.
She announced new funding for 23 different grassroots organizations in the city who, through various kinds of activities, help keep kids and young adults away from violence. She says the pandemic has financially limited their abilities to do as much work as usual.
A total of $625,000 from CARES Act money will go toward the groups in the form of grants.
“I think it’s crucial. It’s crucial for our young people,” she said. “They need to understand and need to know that there are people that care about them and love them.”