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Opinion: We Must Extend a Welcoming Hand to Create a Safer, Saner America

Shannon Hardin Shannon Hardin Opinion: We Must Extend a Welcoming Hand to Create a Safer, Saner AmericaPhoto by Walker Evans.
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It is the end of March, and we are again plagued by gun violence in our communities, leaving families devastated and peace destroyed in our neighborhoods. Mass shootings wreaked havoc in Atlanta and Denver, but closer to home, the sheer number of murders and violence have us on track to another record year of lives lost.  

Just one year ago, as COVID began to shut down schools, churches, shops and institutions, we and our neighbors were left with anxiety, wondering what the new normal would look like. Violence soon followed. While many did the right thing, like masking up and staying home, some clearly could not handle the stress and uncertainty. As we are beginning to see hope at the end of one tunnel, we must redouble our efforts to prevent another season of gun violence in Columbus neighborhoods.

The sharp rise in violent gun assaults plaguing our city since the COVID-19 pandemic is our next challenge, and residents rightly are demanding action even as we work to reimagine public safety operations for all neighborhoods.

We cannot accept violence of any kind to be a part of the next normal. For our kids, for our neighbors, wherever and whenever a criminal chooses to take lives. As long as this continues, we all lose.

Columbus City Council is stepping up where we can by awarding grants to grassroots organizations to help prevent violence. We are partnering with a dozen local churches and nonprofits to say collectively, enough is enough. Our March 30 Council public hearing on violence prevention will be critical as we invite residents to listen to these ideas and offer input. 

Now, more than ever, it is important to hear from our residents, neighborhood leaders and experts to de-escalate conflict, give youth jobs to keep them off the streets, and support families to keep guns away from children. 

On behalf of all who are grieving, I’m asking the residents of Columbus to get involved. Be proactive and reach out to your neighbors and our youth. Ask them how they’re doing and see if you can do anything to support them. 

It is time that we all lock hands and build bridges of trust between one another, especially with law enforcement. Columbus is our home and we must be our brother’s keeper so we bring the next generation into a safer, saner America. 

Columbus City Council President
Shannon G. Hardin

Editor’s Note: Council will host a Reimagining Safety Anti-Violence public hearing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 5 p.m.

Any resident seeking to submit written testimony for the hearing should submit their testimony to the office of Council President Shannon G. Hardin. To provide testimony via WebEx during the virtual hearing, email Zak Davidson at [email protected] by noon on the day of the hearing.

Any resident wishing to appear via WebEx to provide testimony during the virtual hearing should email Zak Davidson at [email protected] by noon on the day of the hearing to request a WebEx speaker link.

The hearing will be streamed on Council’s Facebook page and the City of Columbus YouTube channel

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