ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Members of the activist group called the Organization for Black Struggle are taking on a new role. They are hitting the streets in an effort to make contact with the shooters and talk them into backing down from retaliatory killing. They took on this role after they say a program they recommended called Cure Violence that was adopted by the city got derailed.
“It seems like at a certain point people tossed out the model and said we got the money,” said Organization for Black Struggle spokeswoman Jamala Rogers.
Rogers says the Cure Violence model of fighting crime called for hiring people well known in the neighborhood to go out and try to persuade the shooters to forgo violence. They were also supposed to help get them off drugs, find a job, to try an steer them away from crime.
Board President Lewis Reed was the main political backer who got the Board of Aldermen to allocate $7 million dollars to fund Cure Violence. The activist group later stepped down from the city committee that ran the Cure Violence program they recommended.
“Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth from Cure Violence,” asks Elliott Davis.
“At this point. I can’t say because I can’t see what they’re doing. There’s no transparency at this point in terms of what’s happening and how the dollars are spent,” said Rogers.
Cure Violence was supposed to slash crime by 50 percent. Now St. Louis is having one of its worst years for murders in recent memory. There have been 220 killings so far this year. In 2019 there were 194 murders. That is around a 30 increase over this time last year.
“Is the Krewson Administration making a lot of progress and headway on Cure Violence in dealing with crime,” asks Elliott Davis.
“The good thing is we put the money in place last September and October,” said St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. “But we wanted seven or eight months before beginning to look at the program. That’s seven or eight months that we’ll never get back. So it’s not satisfactory.”
Jamala Rogers said trouble was brewing before the pandemic.
“Part of the reasons that the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression pulled out was because it was a committee including Lewis Reed’s representative who basically ignored the recommendations of the Cure Violence steering committee. I don’t think you can point necessarily at the Mayor,” said Rogers.
Rogers says her group will continue their efforts out on the streets to try to curb crime. But, they are not on the city’s payroll.
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