July 2021

‘Very depressing to think about’: Central Ohio father concerned about rise in violence

Courtesy of WBNS 10TV
By Richard Solomon
July 14, 2021

Desmon Martin, a father of two, says he is worried about the kind of future his kids will face as violence in Columbus continues to rise.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The amount of violence is not only seen in Columbus but nationwide.

A study of 24 major cities shows there is a 24% increase in homicides in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time period last year.

Currently, Columbus is on pace to set another new high for homicides in a year. It has Desmon Martin, a father of two young girls, worried.

“I see so much that’s going on today. I read about it, I watch it on the news. As a father it’s very depressing to think about the future that we’re leading our kids to,” Martin said.

Martin said that’s why he and his wife hold the hands of his 9-year-old Aaliyah and 6-year-old Camille tighter.

“We’re constantly on high alert. I worry about my kids going out here and falling victim to some criminal activity or a stray bullet,” Martin said

Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of Columbus Urban League and William Balling, President of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, and current chief of police for the city of Sidney, share Martin’s feelings.

We asked Balling what can cause a trend in violence.

“It’s almost like this perfect storm. And I think that’s partially because people are being cooped up in the house they’re together more. I really don’t think it’s guns on the streets that’s killing people. It’s the people that are killing people,” Balling said.

Hightower said if you know the needs of a community – you’ll understand why there’s violence.

“This violence does play into neighborhoods that do not have the kind of amenities like in our suburban neighborhoods,” Hightower said.

Martin said hearing about the shooting death of 17-year-old Jayce O’Neal in west Columbus broke his heart.

To him, a start to solving violence starts at home.

“We want to keep them engaged, keep them involved to feel loved, and to feel like their lives matter,” Martin said.

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