A rash of deadly violence in Jefferson County has brought crime to the forefront of all Jefferson County citizens’ minds.
The county’s chapter of the Young Democrats may not be the first organization you might think of to help counter the recent spate of Birmingham homicides, but they are out in force in Jefferson communities trying to work with their neighbors to stem the tide of violence.
“It disturbed me, the amount of homicides we’ve had in the city of Birmingham throughout this past year,” Jefferson Young Democrats leader Le’Darius Hilliard said.
“It is our responsibility as citizens (to) take back control of our neighborhoods,” Hilliard added, just a day after two homicides were reported in the area, including at the Tom Brown Village public housing community and another along Ninth Court South.
Hilliard says a return to more neighborhood-conscious days, where individuals took accountability for a block or section of their community, could help bring more awareness and head off conflicts before they boil over.
“In the days of leadership in the past, we had block captains and our neighborhoods associations were blooming,” Hilliard said.
Though the Young Dem admits reducing gun violence in Birmingham will be no easy task, he said Sunday a good place to start is just helping people find common cause in their community.
“Where is the respect? Where is the love?” Hilliard said. “I believe we’re just lacking that.”
Hilliard says he met with leaders of church congregations Friday last week, and will continue to do so as the Birmingham homicide rate spikes.
Government statistics show the crime rate in the Magic City is about 50 percent higher than the state average, about 26 percent versus Alabama’s 17 percent overall.