Community takes a stand after violent week

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – After a violent outbreak of crime in the city, community and city leaders joined together to take a stand.

Last week there were four shootings in the capital city, including one that ended a young man’s life.

The group met at the Billy Taylor Park to stand up against violence, specifically gun violence, saying they wanted to take a proactive approach before summer when things can really heat up.

“No family should ever have to go through what the families of these victims and other victims have faced,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

After news of the four shootings hit the community some decided enough was enough.

“We felt the need to speak out publicly to say violence, and especially gun violence, are not acceptable in our community. We need to end the violence,” Kira Wills, Co-Director of Unifed Solutions.

They were joined by city and community leaders, including several Providence Polie officers and the Police Chief, along with representatives of several different faith based communities to show solidarity in finding solutions.

“We’re having too many young males shot and killed in this city,” said Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare.

“We stand here today to send a message to anyone prone to violence and to the entire community that what has happened this weekend is not normal and we will never allow it to be normalized,” said Elorza.

City leaders asked family members in the community to reach out for help and use the resources available and to those caught in the cycle to end it.

“I appeal to those that are in this cycle of violence to call a truce,” said Pare.

“Whatever your issue is there’s got to be a way where you can have some kind of mediation and conversation and you should not be picking up a gun as your final solution,” said Pilar McCloud, A Sweet Creation Youth Organization.

The Mayor credited the community approach to the decline in crime in Providence over the past ten years. He said there was a 30 percent decline in shootings in 2016 and the lowest homicide rate in the city in the past 30 years.

“And for the first time in anyone’s memory, in 2016, there was not a single gang related homicide in the entire city of Providence,” Elorza said.

Still he said the city can do better.

The group said they would not be stopping with this press conference. They said they will be posting notices in the community about upcoming community meetings and resources that are available.

Some of the family members of the victims of the recent shootings were in attendance but did not wish to speak with the media or address the crowd. The Mayor and those that talked to them after the events said the families and victims made it clear they did not want retaliation, just the violence to end.

“Retaliation doesn’t work, it doesn’t work for any of us,” said McCloud.