Summertime Struggle: City Pushes to Cut Murder & Violence
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Wednesday afternoon, city officials wrapped up a month long gun violence awareness campaign. Earlier this year, one church called for a "murder free summer."
Have campaigns like these really made a difference?
"Let me be honest," said Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen. "I'm a Pastor also, and this week I'm burying another gentleman who was gunned down. It's always tough for me because I think what else can we do?"
Although recent murders do call in to question the purpose of the campaigns with seemingly obvious messages, Pridgen says they have their merits. "I don't think having Gun Violence Awareness Month is going to stop half the homicides, but I do think that it does get people talking. I think every effort, whether it's Gun Violence Awareness Month, or the gun buy-backs, or stricter enforcement, longer jail terms, I think all of those work together. This is one very, very small piece to the puzzle."
Buffalo Police Comissioner Daniel Derenda agrees. "Just getting people involved is going to lower numbers," Derenda said. "Are we ever going to eradicate (gun violence) totally, probably not."
With the city in the news seemingly now more than ever for positive gains, do officials feel more pressure to ensure the words violence and Buffalo aren't used in the same sentence? "It shouldn't be acceptable regardless of whether the city is reviving or whether the city is stagnant," Pridgen said. "If we're doing these efforts simply because there's a revival in the city, it says to people who have already been here that we don't really give a dang."
"We have had some murders, we have had some violence. For me, the reason to really pay attention to the violence really has nothing to do with the resurgence, it has to do with the folks who are already living here."
Why are these campaigns popping up all of the sudden? Recent numbers from the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics say that there's a six percent increase in violent crimes in the summer when compared to the colder months.