Thursday 1 December 2022
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A Long Hot Summer in Syracuse?

Op/Ed By Kofi Quaye –


kofi_quayeIt looks like we are faced with a long hot summer this year, again. And, by a long hot summer, I am referring to the seemingly inevitable increase in violence that appears to take place during the summer months in the city of Syracuse.

It is a trend that has been hyped in the media over the years, and reinforced to a certain extent by people in the community.

Essentially, people have grown to believe that the heat of summer will also create hot tempers which lead to fights, and other acts of violence.

It is the time of the year when the smallest argument can easily escalate into a full blown confrontation, ending with violence as the final arbiter.

In recent years, summer in Syracuse has typically been characterized by neighborhood bloodshed and mayhem.

Sadly, the people who live here act as though they simply brace themselves to deal with the tragic deaths they expect to occur.

It is surreal, to say the least, for the entire community to think this is the norm.

And, I guess, as far as they are concerned, this year won’t be any different.

Tragedy will strike.

Families will lose loved ones.

Lives will be cut short.

They will bury the dead, and mourn the loved ones they’ve lost.

However, the community will continue to survive, and move on, the same as it has always done.

Unfortunately, we’ve all become too familiar with the sights and sounds of summer violence in Syracuse – the grieving families on television; the coffins going in and out of churches with black pallbearers in tow; community gatherings to protest violence, and to make noise about taking our community back.

On each occasion, the police announce ongoing investigations to find the perpetrators.

Then, the community goes on about its business, hoping and praying the perpetrators will be caught and brought to justice.

“This is the seventh homicide of the year,” Muhammad Ali, a Southside resident who described himself as a concerned citizen, stated.

Ali cited a shooting on Kennedy St., on the south side, in June.

When it happened, it was the city’s latest homicide, and one of the most tragic this year, especially considering the victim had been a young black person who was killed for no apparent reason.

I recall seeing the distraught mother on television.

She talked about her pain and suffering.

She said her son had been a good kid who had been focused on getting an education, and living a crime-free life, only to become the victim of a senseless shooting in a south side neighborhood.

Summer is here, and the increase in violence has been beyond dispute.

Once again, it appears to involve mostly young black victims and perpetrators.

And, the majority of the violence has occurred in predominantly black neighborhoods.

But, the question that comes to mind is –  why?

Why does the cycle of increased violence appear to involve mostly black men and women in the black community?

It has been argued that the black community, in most American cities, is more likely to be prone to criminal activity, as a result of the deprivation it has had to deal with.

Race-based bias and bigotry, in all areas of life, can make it hard, and sometimes impossible, to gain access to some of the resources which help community residents find jobs, make money, and get decent housing when they need it.

Some theorists have also suggested that unemployment, less access to social, health, and educational resources are to blame for the increase in violence that occurs in cities all over the country during the summer months.

As a result, law enforcement agencies, non-profit organizations, city, county, state, and federal agencies put never-ending efforts in place to find solutions to the problem.

And, in anticipation of what may confront them, these agencies may take whatever actions they consider to be necessary to prevent the escalation of violence in the summer.

The problem is – they haven’t succeeded in stopping the cycle of increased violence the city has had to deal with year-round, in addition to during the summer months.

It is beyond question that Syracuse’s black youth and young adults face many challenges in their daily lives.

It is also true that some may succumb to the temptations to drop out of school, and to engage in criminal acts.

However, cities like Syracuse are supposed to have facilities in place that have programs, activities, and complementing school curricula which are designed to cater to youth and young adults.

Such facilities do exist in Syracuse, and they play a role in the city’s ongoing efforts to create a positive environment for youth and young people, away from the streets.

However, they just haven’t succeeded in solving the problem.

Dealing with unsafe neighborhoods year-round is bad enough.

But, it’s worse when people in the community have to deal with the notion that there will be an increase in violence during the summer, and the fact that they may not to be able to do anything to stop it.

It is scary, to say the least.

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