Savannah’s Black Leaders Take Action After Murders

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http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0603/p01s02-usju.html

Last month, the “thug life” that the rap artist “Camoflauge” (Jason Johnson) rapped about caught up with him: A lone bullet killed the dreadlocked rapper as he walked outside his studio, Pure Pain, in Savannah, Ga., carrying his infant son. The boy was unhurt. The Christian Science Monitor notes that Johnson’s death was the third of four Savannah murders in five days. After nine days of calm, a fifth man was killed outside a nightclub Friday. It’s a homicidal streak that police call “exceptionally unusual” for these sleepy streets.

From vigils to funerals to late-night summits in church rectories, the Monitor says, Savannah’s black community is reacting to violence with vigor. The aim: Not just to end the current shooting spree, but to make sure disillusioned African-American kids, here and elsewhere, have a chance for careers beyond despair. Black leaders are trying to establish a new consortium of churches, neighborhood groups, and business groups – all with the help of Savannah State University, the city’s historically black school -to train young adults from the black community and, more important, find them fulfilling jobs.

Police say none of the shootings has been random. All five victims grew up together in the projects and all were known to Savannah police. Camoflauge himself spent three months in jail in 2000 on murder charges, which were dropped after the grand jury failed to indict him.

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