Pittsburgh Message To Gang Leaders: “Put The Guns Down”


Pittsburgh has started an Initiative to Reduce Crime, aimed to diminish the city’s homicide rate, with a “call-in” of gang leaders, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Homicides fell 45.8 percent, from 72 in 2008 to 39 last year, but Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the need for the strategy remains. “People are still shooting, people are still dying,” Ravenstahl said after the sessions. “We delivered a message that enough is enough. Put the guns down. This has to end.”

About 55 members of the city’s 37 violent street gangs sat in a courtroom gallery and listened as their neighbors told them violence is no longer tolerable, law enforcement promised swift punishment for future crime, and service-providers offered an array of help. But they must stop shooting. “What happened here was electrifying,” said the program’s architect, David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “I watched the faces of the invited guests, and when I see them nodding along in agreement with what law enforcement, the community folks and social service providers are saying, I know we’ve gotten someplace special, and that’s what just happened. [] These guys, who many people reject as lost, sociopaths, psychopaths, sat there and they nodded their heads in agreement because it’s the truth and said that directly, almost nobody disagrees with it.”

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