From mothers who lost sons to gun violence to elected officials who pledged to help get guns off the street, Pittsburgh neighborhood leaders gathered last night to address the escalating rates of black homicide, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “White people are not killing us. We are killing us,” said Tim Stevens, head of the Black Political Empowerment Project and an organizer of the meeting. “We have become the problem and we must now find the solutions. We have no other choice.”
The alarms grew louder last week when an analysis of FBI statistics showed that the homicide rate among blacks in Pennsylvania ranks the highest in the nation. Most of the deaths involved handguns; their use pushed homicide into the leading cause of death among blacks ages 15 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 34. The answers lie in creating a self-discipline and duty to community where residents must feel each other’s pain, said Jasiri X, a leader with the Nation of Islam. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who attended, said he could not pretend to understand what crises the young men face but that he would work with the community to try to get illegal guns off the street.