ST. LOUIS – A violent holiday weekend left police busy responding to more than a dozen calls for shootings and four homicides. Now, city officials are warning of a “really bad summer” on the horizon. That’s a startling prediction coming from St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed.
As the city begins to reopen from COVID-19’s stay-at-home order and we come off the heels of the Memorial Day weekend, it appears one thing remains the same – senseless violence in St. Louis continues to happen.
“We have two health care crises that we’re addressing at the same time,” Reed said. “Just like you wouldn’t want coronavirus to run amuck, you definitely don’t want this to get out of hand than it already is.”
Nineteen people were shot over the Memorial Day weekend, including three teenagers. Four of those shooting ended up as murders.
Reed is pointing to his long championed million-dollar program, Cure Violence, as the answer. The only thing is that’s been difficult to get up and running.
“We lost January, we lost February, March came, coronavirus came,” Reed said of the delay in the process. “By that time, we were six to seven months of not even moving.”
As of now, Reed says the timeline to enact the community engagement and de-escalation program wouldn’t be until mid or late summer at the earliest, if they get the ball rolling right now.
In essence, too late as June, July, and August are when homicides spike in the city.
That causes even more worry as summer programs are limited or canceled due to COVID-19, leaving the young people to wonder and danger to lurk.
“It deeply concerns me and add to that the attitude of people with this pandemic and how they’re treating it and not taking it serious,” Rev. Earl Nance Jr. said.
The reverend admits he isn’t confident if a program like Cure Violence is the answer, but what he is clear on is that something needs to happen, and it needs to happen soon.
“Whatever Cure Violence is going to do, let’s implement all of it or what we can,” he said. “Let’s get it going. Let’s not wait because they’re not waiting.”
Mayor Lyda Krewson released a statement on the weekend of violence:
“I am outraged over the shootings and violence that have occurred over this Memorial Day weekend — and again today. It’s just senseless. There are too many guns. Too much anger. Too many sad families. It’s a tragic beginning to summer. Please, no further retaliation. Put down the guns.”