Detroit One Initiative Offers A Chance For Everyone To Play A Role In Creating A Safer Detroit.
Guns are not the way. They won’t make you smarter. They won’t make you taller, sexier or better looking. They won’t graduate you from high school, won’t get you into college and won’t get you a job. They will take you to prison – or to the undertaker. They will take lives, shatter dreams and crush hopes for the future. Guns are not the way. We all know that, but we are we willing to do about it? It’s not that Detroit has not been trying, but we have to do more – everyone has to do more. Law enforcement, the community, families, teachers, businesses – anyone who cares about the future of this great city— all must become part of the solution. That’s what Detroit One is all about. Yes, it is an important call for cooperation and coordination between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies with a goal of cutting the number of shootings by 25 percent this year – and ultimately greatly reducing the 387 homicides Detroit experienced in 2012. Personally, I would like to reduce by half last year’s homicide total – an implausible goal perhaps but one more than worth the effort. But spiraling crime and murder rates cannot be stopped by police alone. That’s where you, I and everyone else with a stake in this town come in. Detroit One is appealing for all community groups, churches, block clubs and businesses to do more to thwart the criminal behavior and criminal attitudes that create neighborhoods of fear. Of course, many groups are already at work on this but need to find creative ways to help them do more and find many more allies in this campaign. This involves challenging and changing our culture of violence, no small task when millions are made each year of off violent movies, video games and advertising images – some subliminal but many overt – that glorify using the gun as a way to settle scores, and take what you want – even if it means taking someone’s life. We don’t have to support violent movies that make blowing people away with a gun look like a picnic in the park. We can tell newspaper publishers to stop running movie promotion photos in the newspaper that always show the star brandishing a gun. (Sure, this a nitpick but it feeds the culture of violence). We have to turn up the volume on the bad guys. For too long, we have made them feel comfortable – feeling no one will get involved. This must change. It will change – but only if WE make it change. Here’s a thought: “Let’s Ditch, No Snitch.” The “No Snitch,” code of the streets is the excuse used to justify looking the other way, perhaps in some misguided response to police brutality or law enforcement excesses. So the shooting goes on. Supporting the Crime Stoppers program, the anonymous crime tip and rewards program, is one way to get involved but there are many others. We need more community block clubs and CB patrols. Bad guys do not like an organized community. That is bad for their business. We need more youth programs, more jobs and economic opportunities. Those are crime fighting programs too. Business people and entrepreneurs can do this. We need a tighter bond between our police and law enforcement, coming together at events and activities to build bonds of trust – not just looking for trust after a crime is committed. As a community, until we really start to “Stand Up, Speak Up and Save A Life’’— the motto of Detroit One -the madness will continue. My heart breaks every time I see a news report of crying mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, mourning the loss of a loved one to senseless violence. We don’t need more tears. We need answers. We need you to be part of the Detroit One solution. Editor’s Note: Luther Keith is executive director of ARISE Detroit!, a non-profit coalition of more than 400 community groups promoting volunteerism, community activism and positive media images to create a better Detroit.