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Community leaders call on public to assist in effort to reduce violence

Ashley Hirtzel

Community organizations gathered Friday to call on residents in Buffalo’s University District to work together to reduce violence in the city. The call comes after two teens were gunned down in the neighborhood Tuesday.

Edward Saunders Community Center Executive Director Pastor Kenny Simmons says it’s time for a level of accountability in city neighborhoods. He says it’s up to residents to step-up and report suspicious activity.

“It’s incredible that our children can’t play in front of their yards. They can’t go to their neighborhood parks. They’re scared go to their community centers, because we are allowing individuals to terrorize out community. We need to stand up for our community. If we see somebody stashing some crack, if we see somebody stashing a pistol, get on the phone and call the police. If you don’t want to call the police come down to the community center. Go to your block club president,” said Simmons.

Martha Mitchell Community Center Director Al Wilson says in order to reduce crime the community must work together.

“We must do something. It is very important. We must get out of our homes, go into the community and see what’s going on. If you see it, tell it. It is very important and we have to do it today,” said Wilson.

University District Common Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt announced the opening of a district office on Bailey Ave. The center is set to open Monday and will see constituents by appointment. Wyatt says he believes the time has come to take back the neighborhood.

“I tell people your councilmember is not your community. You are the community and I need you all to recognize that you have power. We have power to change our situation. It’s not just up to the elected officials to change the situation. It’s up to the community to get involved, to get engaged. This crime and violence is not just a police issue, it’s a community issue and we all need to play a role in resolving it,” said Wyatt.

A ‘Youth Council’ was also created to work with area organizations to engage young people and keep them from taking part in violent activities. The council will assist in preparing youth for college and career and boosting the overall outlook among at risk youth.