GREENSBORO, N.C. - A year after a community-wide pledge against violence, leaders say they need to take another look and double their efforts.
“We’re just tired. We're hurt, we're fed up. So, what we want to do is pull all the leaders together and fight with more strength and more power,” said Gene Blackman, the instructor, and director at Prestige Barber College in Greensboro.
Barbers Team Up With Police To Help Cut Out Violence
He says community leaders are frustrated with the uptick of violence in the city. For the past year, they have been trying to bring an end to it.
“Barbers are very influential. And that's one of the things that we teach, being responsible with your influence,” said Blackman.
Enrolled here now at Prestige, 25 students - all learning a trade, how to be an entrepreneur, and how to be a leader.
“We’ve had an influx in our violent crime in the city and some of the violent crime has been homicides,” said Deputy Chief James Hinson, “If we have good community stakeholders such as [Prestige] with the police department, we're going to continue to try to educate and spread the word about how we can be non-violent.”
The community leaders, including former and current gang members, have come up with a 3-part plan to combat the violence: planned strategy, street teams, and, once they get people off the streets, options, and avenues – like the barber college.
“We're killing each other. We got to stop doing that,” said Willie Pettiford, founder of Voices of the Struggle, “We have to hold ourselves accountable. Yes, we want justice when the police kill a young brother, they need to get justice too, just like if another black man killed another black man. Two lives are lost – one’s going to prison and one is dead.”
Community leaders say they need to speak out and educate often, all across Greensboro. Especially if they've been there before.
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“I used to be in the streets so I understand where they're coming from,” said Gerald Roberts, with the Stop the Violence Movement, “And that's the reason why I'm out here on the streets, and I feel like they can relate to me better than just a person that never been on the streets.”
“I think that when the community can take the overall initiative, I think it has more impact on the community,” said Deputy Chief Hinson.