Salisbury Public Forum Discusses Violence, Change in City - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Public Forum Discusses Violence, Change in City

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(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

SALISBURY, Md. -- Maryland's Attorney General on Thursday evening joined an important community discussion about violence in Salisbury less than 24 hours after another shooting occurred in town.

It's the third shooting in 11 days for Salisbury.

Mayor Jim Ireton called the meeting for a candid community discussion about what city outreach groups can do to better serve and protect the youth.

Prompting the public forum was the recent shooting deaths of 17-year old Rakim Russell and 21-year old Dommier Deshields, on Aug. 2 and Aug. 3 respectively.

On the 100 block of Delaware Avenue, city police say 24-year old Shawn Woodford was shot in the back on the night of Aug. 12.

New to the Salisbury area, 13-year-old Rodger Warner said he heard Wednesday night's shots.

"When I pulled up I just saw the cops over there and walked to the corner, and just saw people watching. Then I just saw the body just laying there," said Warner.

Warner said he's never seen a body lying in the helpless state Woodford was found in that night.

"I've been around nice places, I just never experienced seeing somebody just lying there needing help," said the 13-year old who was still somewhat shaken by the scene.

Ireton said stopping the violence in Salisbury needs to be a community effort, starting with the children first.

"What starts down there at stealing a bike, ends up in a car with a gun and a gunshot," said Ireton referring to recent bicycle thefts in the city.

"So my concern truly is our African American male population. I've been a teacher for 25 years and a mayor for six. I am qualified to tell you that we have a problem that there are too many African American males not going to school, going to prison or dying too early," said Ireton.

The leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 34 is homicide, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013 study.

African American and Hispanic/Latino students still graduate 10-15 points behind the national average, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

African American men incarcerated in the U.S. outnumber the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Germany, England and more, according to an International Centre for Prison Studies report partnered with the University of Essex, England.

At the meeting, McKinley Hayward said  he wants to see more good paying jobs for the city's youth and more attentive education.

"Many of our kids are going to school and getting absolutely nothing out of education and it's creating a problem as they grow older," Hayward said.

Some community leaders and residents say when the children leave school or are on summer break, there's little to do for them and often, they turn to the streets.

"So we need to bring them in and find out some of the things that the kids want to do in the neighborhood," Hayward continued. "Find out some of the things that they think that we need, that they need, rather than we dictating what we think they need."

Hayward finished by saying these public forums are what the Salisbury community needs more of to curb the growing violence. 

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