After a record-setting number of killings in Wilmington last year, a group of pastors along with members of the Delaware Black Caucus are teaming up to stop the violence.
President of the Interdenominational Ministers Action Council (IMAC) Ty Johnson says the group of pastors have been meeting and praying behind closed doors for answers to the violence that plagues the city, but he says now is the time to take their message to the streets. “We need to move from the pulpits to the pavement. We need to take that same heat to the streets.”
About 20 people gathered at the Faith Harvest Fellowship Church in Wilmington to show their support for the IMAC effort, that group included several members of the Delaware Black Caucus. New Castle County Councilman Jea Street says the troubles that afflict Wilmington are felt in other parts of the community. “We’re all in this together. My view is, as the city goes, so the state goes. For those who want to shun away and say it’s not our responsibility, we adamantly disagree.”
Street passed out copies of letters he’s exchanged with Wilmington Mayor James Baker about the city’s crime and possible solutions. In those letters, Baker shows support for using State Police to fight crime in the city. “I will be happy to propose to the Governor that State Police be assigned to jurisdictions throughout the state to fight crim in combination with local law enforcement,” Baker writes. The letter also says that Baker has talked to Governor Jack Markell about setting up a meeting with the leaders of neighboring states to develop a regional crime fighting plan.
The Mayor’s letter to Street also outlines the seriousness of the city’s crime problem that goes beyond just a record number of killings in 2010:
The average age of those who fire weapons to kill and injure are between the ages of 14 and 22.
Two-thirds of the total arrests made in Delaware yearly are made in Wilmington.
Approximately 100 individuals leave prison each month, and most come to Wilmington to reside. Couple that with a 60% recidivisim rate in Delaware, and you see how the problem escalates.
59% of students who live in Wilmington drop out of schools managed by five area districts.
The unemployment rate among minorities in Wilmington is nearing 25%, and unemployment among minority youth is about 45%.
The Delaware Black Caucus is also exploring the option of having the Guardian Angels help quell the violence in Wilmington.