Twenty-one people have been killed in Wilmington, De., tying 2006 with 1996 as the deadliest year in the city’s history, says the Wilmington News Journal. The grim record, which includes two people shot by police, has children afraid to walk the streets. Some officials are battling over whether it’s a police problem or a cultural one. “I’m at a loss,” said Councilman Sam Prado, who represents parts of the city’s most violent neighborhoods. “The young people in Wilmington are so out of control. There seems to be a mob mentality that leads to a cycle of revenge, of shooting each other instead of calling the police.”
The number of juveniles arrested for serious crimes is on the upswing in Delaware. Jea Street of the Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center loses children to the streets all the time. “When the kids turn 12 or 13, I’m in immediate competition for their destiny with the drug dealers, who give them a lot of money and ask for very little, while we can only give them a safe haven and some hope for the future.” Street is critical of Mayor James Baker’s approach to reducing violence. Street wants more aggressive police tactics for removing guns from the streets and more summer jobs and other programs for teens. Baker sees Wilmington’s violence as a national problem that needs to be addressed at its core, not simply by throwing more police at it. City police have arrested more people and seized more guns this year than last, he said, and still murders are at an all-time high.