Community Searching For Solutions To End Violence

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Frustrated residents gathered Thursday night in Hartford's North End to discuss solutions to end the continued violence.

The "No More Fear!" meeting aimed to be a community forum run by community members instead of officials.

Bishop Smith stood up abruptly during the forum to speak her mind. The 54-year-old woman said she had been going to similar meetings for 20 or 30 years without results. She said she was tired of talk and ready for action, and that she was sick of the endless violence in the North End.

"I've talked to every single mayor in this city, I've talked to every single chief that I could," said Smith.

Thursday night's meeting was not about talking to officials, but about sharing among community members.

"It's always effective to hear what the community has to say about what's going on in their community," said younger Hartford native, Alicia Graves.

She grew up in the North End before studying at the University of Hartford.

She was just one audience member out of a group that included reverends, police officers and even Hartford Police Chief James Rovella. One idea supported by many was to form a clearinghouse of resources and personnel to better organize efforts.

"We need to come together and stop talking about the problems and start talking about solutions because only through solutions can we stop the violence," said Kevin Outar.

Outar, who does community outreach for the FatherWorks division of "The Village," addressed the frustration expressed by many who spoke out.

"It's not frustration or anger within this room, because we already know what's happening outside these doors," Outar said. "But the reality is, we need these meetings like this so we can move forward now and get to a platform of taking back our city again."

Topics like employment, mental health, gun violence and housing assistance were all discussed as factors in the search for comprehensive solutions to the violence that's become a pervasive and persistent problem.

"Here in the North End, where the educational levels have dropped off, the unemployment levels are very high, we have to look at other things now," said Sgt. Steve Austin of the Hartford Police Department.

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