ST. LOUIS – The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis says the fight against violent crime must move from the streets to the living rooms with a new and intensive anti-crime plan.
Investigators with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have seen gun violence overwhelm the neighborhoods of Walnut Park West and Walnut Park East this week, where five people have been murdered in the last three days.
The neighborhoods have some of the highest poverty rates in the city and are in the midst of an increase in crime.
“If you can remove yourself from the street corner for eight to 12 hours, then that’s usually the best way to keep yourself out of that jail cell or out of that wooden box,” said Jamie Dennis, director of Save Our Sons.
On Thursday, the Urban League announced the “Serving Our Streets” initiative, designed to tackle the problem block-by-block and going door-to-door to talk with Walnut Park residents in their homes in an effort to prevent crime.
“Our neighborhoods are resource deserts, where people do not have access to resources,” said James Clark, vice president of the Urban League. “If we can bring the resources to the neighborhoods, the neighborhoods will get better.”
The Urban League’s ambitious plan includes recruiting 100 churches to serve as regular meeting spaces for neighborhood residents.
Pastor Andre Logan of Thessalonian Missionary Baptist Church was the first to commit to the effort.
“I just want to say if you’re trying to get 100 churches, now you only need 99,” he said.
Michael McMillan, Urban League president and CEO, said their boots on the ground won’t leave when the crime rate goes down. The plan is funded with a $750,000 grant from the Cure Violence program in St. Louis City.
“As opposed to running away from the neighborhoods that need us the most, we should be running to them,” he said.