That’s why, as of late, I had to take a break from blogging, and Tweeting and other distracting things, and tighten my focus on the good old fashioned information gathering process that explored the rising homicide rate.
I spent time at a Baptist church, in a squad car and at a community center, talking to preachers, police, children and others working and living in a pocket of violence on the northeast side.
I spoke to a gang investigator and learned that Oklahoma City is tracking more gang members than ever before and drive-by shootings are on the rise this year. At the same time, there are fewer cops on the street than in 1989.
At the church, I met smiling kids with dreams of being firefighters or hip hop dancers. Bad stuff, like drugs, gangs and violence, is everywhere in their neighborhood near the state Capitol.
Hopefully, besides reporting on a high number of deaths, I’ve painted a picture of life around one of the places where the bodies most often fall.
This is what I wrote.
These are the people who died in the small area I explored.
View our maps that track the violence.
Below, read what people are saying about the homicide rate.
“This year in particular, some of our gangs in that part of the city that have been very active. They have been responsible for a lot of the violent activity going on the east side of town. We’ve had several homicides and tons of drive-bys. It starts a perpetuating cycle. It’s hard to stop sometimes, until you get both sides locked up.”–Tim Hock, an Oklahoma City police gang investigator and president of the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association
“It’s discouraging to know our children are involved in this type of activity, but it is our responsibility as a community to redirect them. We are making every effort to do so.” –Deena Thomas, a former Douglass Mid-High School English teacher whose former student, Israel Jackson, was shot to death in June. Thomas grew up on the northeast side and returns to tutor at Prospect Baptist Church.
“We’re in the heart of the ‘hood. We’re here on purpose. Every day you’re going to see homeless people walking. You see lots of things, definitely drug activity going on. Prostitution, you name it. You’re going to see it in our neighborhood.” –Youth pastor DeWayne Walker, who founded a nonprofit called Earthquake to facilitate events like the weekly Youth J.A.M. (Jesus and Me) at Prospect Baptist Church. The program gives children a safe and positive place to go.