Citizens urged to fight back against neighborhood crime - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Citizens urged to fight back against neighborhood crime

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Civil Rights organizations and religious leaders held open discussions on crime in Jackson Tuesday night.

Organizers of the town hall meeting stressed the need for residents to step up and take responsibility for what's happening in their neighborhoods.

"Crime, drugs, death go on because these people have no jobs," that was the comment from one concerned resident who sited unemployment as a factor in crime.

He was among nearly 100 who attended a Town Hall Forum on Crime at the Masonic Hall on Lynch Street.

Cheryl Livingston grew up in and around Jackson and wants to be proactive in changing the city for the better.

"Jackson was basically the place when I was a kid where I'd always wished I'd be able to live. And by the time that was able to happen unfortunately Jackson started going downhill. A lot of us grew up in and around the area. We felt safe. We shopped here. We lived here, and I'd just like to see that restored back to us," said Livingston.

A panel of representatives from the state FBI to local law enforcement and elected officials offered feedback.

Kass Welchlin also attended the forum.

On August 14th he organized the local Vigil and Memorial for James Craig Anderson and said it's not just up to police to fight crime.

"It's a holistic approach. We need to be active. I'm taking out of this that we have to participate. You can't be passive. You can't be at home on your couch. You've got to be involved. You have to come out and do something. Involvement is what I'm taking out of this," said Welchlin.

The Jackson and state NAACP, ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center and several religious denominations sponsored the forum.

"Support the drug court in identifying drug addicted offenders early on so we can get them diverted into our drug court," said Hinds County Circuit Drug Court Program Director Brenda Mathis.

She blamed drug addiction for crime.

Mathis said it is often why children are affected, from growing up in a household of drug use and abuse to being addicted themselves, even from birth.

Forum organizers called upon citizens to step up and protect their neighborhoods and businesses.

"It's time out for crime. If most citizens think like I do they're sick of it, and it's getting out of hand. It's not white on black or black on white. It's everybody. No particular person or entity is at fault. We're all at fault," said Jackson NAACP President Wayne McDaniels.

Officials said the forum was an opportunity for public input and spreading the message of taking ownership of your community.

"It's past time. It's too late, and we're about running out of time," added McDaniels.

The local civil rights organization leaders said they plan to present information and solutions from this session during another public forum in December.

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