Friday, May 4, 2007

Nice Thought…

Ministers, your suggestion is excellent. Do not expect our Governor’s involement.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

When the Rev. Clay Calloway showed up at 35th Street and Broadway Monday morning, shortly after 21-year-old James Bland was fatally shot, the B-Line Food Mart parking lot was packed with people at a time when most around the city were either headed to school or work. "It looked like it might be a festival," he remembered last night, standing in the same parking lot with about 20 other people, mostly ministers, who want to help bring an end to the violence. Calloway said that experience and a nonfatal shooting a few blocks away on Tuesday afternoon showed him that "there’s a great need to provide some employment opportunities."

Calloway and other members of No Murders Metro joined with members of the Louisville Urban League last night to let at-risk young adults know there are opportunities. With them were three or four Louisville Metro Police officers who were there to show their support. One opportunity is the Urban Youth Empowerment Program, which provides job-skills training and education to at-risk people ages 18 to 21 who have not been convicted of violence or sex offenses. Each participant has a career coach who can give one-on-one help, said Juanita Sands, director of work force development for the Louisville Urban League.

The league’s goal is to serve 60 young adults, but it is only about half full. "There’s a real sense of hopelessness on the street right now," said the Rev. Jamil Armstrong, 27, a youth minister at St. Stephen Church. "People can only go as far as they can see." Instead of drugs, guns and money, young people need to be shown why they should not give in to these temptations, which are glorified on television and through other media, Armstrong said. "They think that’s what they have to have," he said.

There have been 20 homicides in Louisville this year, including one in Jeffersontown and two that involved police officers. In April there were seven homicides, with four of them in the downtown and western Louisville police divisions.

Earlier this year, several ministers from the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition issued a 10-point plan that includes creating church activities aimed at alternatives for youth, better vigilance among residents, stronger family ties and adopting a corner to combat gang and drug activity. Among the ministers gathering last night was the Rev. Jerome Garrison, who suffered a broken bone and facial injuries after being beaten last fall by a gang of youths across Broadway from the B-Line market. Disconnected young people need to be shown that "you don’t have to be a gangster to be somebody," he said.

Despite the beating he suffered, Garrison remains hopeful that residents in his area can show the rest of the city that "the West End is still the best end." Anyone who would like information on the Urban Youth Empowerment Program can call Sands at the Urban League, 566-3370.

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