WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As the number of homicides in Wichita continues to grow this year, community leaders are calling for change and scheduling events to discuss the violence.
According to Wichita police, there have been 11 homicides since Nov. 1. Chief Gordon Ramsay said many of the people responsible for those crimes have lengthy criminal histories.
Many are left asking, “How can we protect our people?”
From prayer vigils to public discussions, the Wichita community is trying to fight back against violence in the city.
“It’s mind-boggling,” said David Griffin, executive director of Sunflower Community Action. “We need some answers.”
Several city leaders have been working over the last few months to come up with ideas on how to combat this issue.
“I see the pain,” said Brandon Johnson, Wichita councilman. “I’ve had friends lose people to violence this year and their pain is what I think about every time I see one of these stories.”
These leaders said they’ve had enough.
Johnson said step one is engagement.
“Check in with folks,” said Johnson. “Ask how you are doing, what’s going on. Maybe someone’s having a bad day and maybe thinking of doing some things that will cause harm. You checking in might stop that.”
While local law enforcement is doing what they can, leaders said it will take everyone to help protect the people of our city.
“We’re going to line up some forums, bring formal and informal leaders together in our community to see if we can get some answers,” said Griffin.
While the brainstorming process continues, local advocates are encouraging people to put down the weapons, forgive, and unite.
“There’s always going to be something you can’t stop, but if there’s a way for us to reduce it, why shouldn’t we?” asked Johnson. “Not everything we do will succeed, but we might as well try.”
Johnson reminisces on a saying another community leader has always told him.
“Know your neighbor six houses down either side of the street,” said Johnson.
He said if people work toward this goal, we could all become closer, and maybe help with the violence.
Johnson said this violence is taking people away from our communities.
“These actions have consequences,” said Johnson. “Somebody’s losing their life and somebody’s going to prison.”
There will be a meeting on Jan. 5 at The Center of Wichita to discuss violence. Speakers will be there to talk to the community.
Local radio station, 95.9 KSun is opening up the conversation about violence on the airwaves and encourages Wichitans to call in to participate.