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Wilmington stakeholders address gun violence in annual report

Wilmington Police investigate the shooting death of a 17-year-old girl Wednesday night in the 900 block of Kirkwood St. in the city's Eastside section. (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

Wilmington Police investigate the shooting death of a 17-year-old girl Wednesday night in the 900 block of Kirkwood St. in the city's Eastside section. (John Jankowski/for NewsWorks)

In the wake of the National School Walkout on Wednesday, community stakeholders plan to present the Wilmington Community Advisory Council’s annual report regarding ways to combat gun violence within the city.

“We aren’t meeting the goals that we want to achieve but we are working towards providing quality programming and support to impact the problem,” said Ray Fitzgerald, who chairs the committee.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to Wilmington a few years ago, officials looked at gun violence as a disease. There had been a significant increase in such violence, involving many of the city’s youth from 2011 to 2014. The problem prompted Wilmington Council President Hanifa Shabazz to call on the CDC. She now applauds students across the country, even in Delaware who are protesting gun violence for stepping up.

“I’m very proud of the young people that they are exercising their voice because it’s going to take the children talking to us adults because its been such a generational gap for too long,” Shabazz said.

The Wilmington Community Advisory Council came together as a result of the CDC findings to address gun violence.

“Last year we funded a safe haven program where community centers extended their hours to provide safe and quality programming to keep kids off the street,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said a partnership with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services was also a big a help.

“We were able to support 75 families through a collaboration we have in the libraries where we are putting social workers in the libraries. We have social workers at the Hicks Anderson Center, and we are starting to partner with community centers this year, to implement youth employment programs, so we are really ramping things up,” Fitzgerald said.

The committee plans to present its annual report by the end of the month to city officials. On March 23, there will be a special presentation for the community at the Christina Cultural Arts Center.

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