By Max Bruns
Brian Garry, founder and chair of Neighborhoods United Cincinnati, presents the organization’s plan to reduce gun violence to a city official At right is Monica Williams, owner of Monica’s Just Cooking restaurant in Bond Hill and a member of the organization. Photo by Angela Reuss
Neighborhoods United Cincinnati recently presented its 45-page plan aimed at gun violence prevention to city council on the steps of City Hall. Focusing on six core initiatives related to community health, education, youth and family support, social and spiritual development, economics and violence mitigation, the goal of the plan is to address gun violence at its roots.
Brian Garry, founder and chair of Neighborhoods United, hopes the plan will motivate Cincinnati City Council to take action to address what he calls “the second pandemic of gun violence in the city.”
Garry said, “We’re calling on the city to declare gun violence a public health emergency. Tough on crime doesn’t work. Addressing root causes does, and it’s less expensive and it heals our community.”
The plan was presented just days after 21 people were shot in the city in four separate shootings. four victims – Antonio Blair, 21, Robert Rogers, 34, Jaquiez Grant and Myron Green, 39 – were left dead as a result. But the plan had been in the works for almost a year before these shootings occurred, in response to other losses to gun violence, as is explained in the introduction.
Two 14-year-old boys who attended Western Hills High School, Anthony Hinton Jr., and Cameron Franklin, were murdered in a span of 10 days in late June and early July of 2019, the plan states.
Originally, when Neighborhoods United began to gather, it was to address issues common to neighborhoods all across the city. But after the loss of these two boys, the group quickly decided to shift its focus and begin to consider primarily the issue of gun violence, sometimes drawing a crowd of over 100 concerned community members.
Since the day of the presentation, three more shootings have resulted in one more homicide, 22-year-old Keshawn Turner.
“This is could go on record as one of the deadliest years in Cincinnati history in terms of gun violence,” Garry said. As of August 16, there have been 326 shootings in the city, which is a 55% increase when compared to this time last year.
The plan was hand delivered by Garry and other community members during its presentation to city council.
But Garry says that solving the issue of gun violence will involve every member of the Cincinnati community, not just the government. “We’re community members who want to save lives and have a safer community for everyone,” he said.