Failure to Identify Assailants Feeds Violence in Our Community


Midland Avenue, Scene of Multiple Shootings

Acts of violence have taken its toll on Syracuse residents. I wonder out loud if our poverty problem has given birth to a sector of our population that’s hopeless, callus and increasingly violent.  There’s an implicit license to “let it happen, it doesn’t affect me.” But as we descend into an area with widening disparities between the haves and the have nots, conventional tactics aren’t working.

We’d be complicit if we didn’t discuss the disturbing trend that’s becoming the norm when it comes down to reporting a violent crime. Especially, in our most challenged African American inhabited neighborhoods.

People are being shot, stabbed, robbed, and beaten up; victims of many crimes are not going to report that they’re a victim. And when a crime is reported to law enforcement, the victim suddenly can’t or won’t speak.

With regularity instead of a victim saying,” (insert perpetrators name here) did it.” The Police are met with victim, after victim who refuse to provide information leading to the arrest of the culprit. Instead of a name of an arrested protagonist, we’re given this statement, “The victim was uncooperative with Officers and Detectives, and refused to provide any information regarding his injury.”

Law and Order requires an atmosphere of trust, where people feel safe to discuss matters without retaliation. At this point, being puzzled I reached out for some answers. What I received was startling, I was told, “look at every stabbing, shooting or act of violence where there’s no cooperation with the police. In many cases several days later, there’ll be another. What people aren’t piecing together is the connection between crimes.” Perhaps that explains the string of violence that erupts periodically. The aggrieved and parties associated with victims at times resort to “Street justice” resulting in a series of tit-for-tat acts of violence.

Some may categorize refusing to “tell” on someone as, “snitching”, however silence means being relegated to a neighborhood living in constant fear. Silence means that the shooter, stabber or robber is now emboldened, absolutely fearless to continue their purge of civility in our poverty plagued city.

At the same time, there’s the responsibility of law enforcement and our judicial system to keep truly dangerous violent people away from ruining the lives of others. It’s a delicate balance, but if there are no consequences to crimes that have been committed, why risk your life, “snitching”?

If the perpetuators of violence are allowed to go back to their lives and behavior, no one is safe. If there isn’t trust between citizens and law enforcement, we descend into lawlessness, which then feeds into the problems we face associated with severe poverty.

There has to be a way to improve the lines of communication between the Syracuse African American community and law enforcement.

There are cities that have experienced the same tit for tat violence cycle we find ourselves in. We need to research what actions were taken to combat violence in these respective cities. These solutions cost money.

Syracuse has to prioritize finding and implementing creative solutions to a longstanding challenge.  Boston and other forward thinking cities have implemented initiatives to curb youth violence, gang violence and sought to change the atmosphere in which these actions are occurring.

Praying is fine and is food for the soul. However, we have to do more than pray. We have to stand, for finding true solutions, not Band-Aids that don’t address root causes. And then pray that these solutions address our core problem with violence.

Our state has resources to expend on large glittering, gleaming signature projects and yet when it comes to the safety and quality of life in our city, there’s no money. Perhaps, they’ll film a movie about our conditions here in Syracuse, why not, we have brand new, New York State financed studio just waiting for customers.