Jamala Rogers

A community report-back on the Cure Violence assessment of St. Louis will be held 6 p.m. Thursday, September 12 at the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, 1000 N. Vandeventer Ave., sponsored by the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression.

I have been doing a slow burn watching so-called leaders address the epidemic of violence. The burn turned to a flame since June 18, when Cure Violence came to St. Louis to conduct an assessment.

We wanted to assess how the health-based violence prevention program could work in St. Louis. The cost of the assessment was paid by the Organization for Black Struggle as an investment in a solution rooted in the belief that our community is worth it. For nearly 40 years, we always have considered ourselves part of the solution.

Cure Violence is part of strategy that calls for divesting  the millions our city and our nation spend on police and cages and reinvesting money in the basic human needs of people, such as livable-wage jobs, quality education, affordable housing and accessible health care.

Mayor Lyda Krewson claims to support Cure Violence, saying she is genuinely concerned about the number of black bodies taken down by violence. She made public a letter to Comptroller Darlene Green dated August 20 stressing the urgency in moving the contractual process to implement the internationally recognized program.

At the time of Krewson’s letter, there was no contract for Green to sign, despite Krewson’s deceptive inference of such. There is still no signed contract, and we have lost more black lives.

Key community leaders have publicly supported Cure Violence. Funds for at least one site is already in the city’s budget. Additional funding streams are a real possibility. So why isn’t Cure Violence a reality?

This kind of politics ought to outrage all of us who are truly seeking a humane end to the sickening violence that engulfs our lives. We are all potential victims of violence. Because of this fact, we must all be vested in the reversal of violence. Violence won’t end with words alone. It will take a comprehensive plan that refuses to accept political posturing and old ways of thinking about crime and punishment.

In St. Louis this summer, the tears of black mothers created rivers as we mourned the deaths of our children by the violent world constructed for them. My life’s work towards transformational change in this society is primarily inspired by children and their boundless potential. That potential is suffocated by poverty and racism. These are two formidable, systemic blocks that we must be fully committed to eradicating.

Also in the path of change are elected officials like Krewson whose mouths conflict with their actions. It is a political disease that is sucking the vitality out of this city. It’s seems that that there is a not-so hidden plan in place to undermine black political leadership, to financially de-stabilize the city, and to ultimately make the case that the city is not worth saving.

The plan to merge St. Louis city and St. Louis County is more like a hostile takeover – aided and abetted by political leaders with their own agendas. That’s a topic for another day.

A community report-back on the Cure Violence assessment will be sponsored by the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression on Thursday, September 12 at 6 p.m. It is hosted by the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, 1000 N. Vandeventer Ave. It is free and open to the public.

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