GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Nineteen homicides in the city of Greensboro — at least five of them including teens.
Over the past year, Triad activists have taken to the streets to demand police reform, but community violence is a looming problem on their minds too.
“In the Black community is definitely an accountability process. We’ve been given an out to blame white people for a lot of stuff,” community leader Anthony Morgan said.
He, along with other community activists, is what District 1 Councilwoman Sharon Hightower calls the city’s boots on the ground.
“A lot of times they are connected already in ways that we are not,” Hightower said.
Morgan said after last year’s record breaking-homicide rate, he knew it was time to take his voice from the streets to the city council table. He’s now working with city leaders.
“I think it’s important for me to work with city leaders. It’s bridging a gap that’s long overdue,” Morgan said. “Me and the mayor have had several conversations about the murder rate and different solutions to bring it down.”
This year, with 19 homicides and counting, one of the programs he thinks could help is “Guns Down Gloves Up,” a boxing event for kids and teens to be part of.
“The young boys, they’re the card boys. So, each round we have the young boys come into the ring and they turn up,” Morgan said.
While teens aren’t the ones doing the fighting, it gives them an opportunity to experience mentorship.
Mentorship is something Hightower said is a key focus for city leaders.
“We’ve got the black suit initiative. We’ve got male mentoring group, we’ve got uniform one, we’ve got pound for pound,” she said.
She said thanks to the American Rescue Plan, they are putting their money into more programs that could help the community.
“That’s specifically for minority-led nonprofits,” she said.
For Morgan, it comes down to changing the hearts of those pulling the trigger.
“Once you work on their hearts their hearts will work on their mind. If you try to skip straight [to their minds], you’re missing everything,” he said.
Juneteenth is another big holiday where both the city and activist will be hosting outdoor events to not only educate people about what the day signifies, but also to get them involved in community programs.