Staff editorial – Violence in Pgh: How do we protect the vulnerable?

by the editorial staff

April 7, 2022

Last week, multiple instances of violent abuse against children made headlines in Pittsburgh. 

Dayvon Vickers, a 15-year-old kid from Homewood, was shot and killed on Wednesday, March 30. His friends and family gathered to hold a vigil, but they are frustrated with the lack of police information about the homicide that could prevent instances like it from happening again.

A number of violent crimes have made the news in Pittsburgh recently. In Homewood alone, there have been eight homicides since New Year’s Eve, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While these stats might not necessarily show an increase in shootings and stabbings in Pittsburgh compared to years prior, the number of child victims is certainly troubling. 

On Friday, April 1, two young boys were transported to a hospital in critical condition after allegedly being stabbed by their own mother in their Hill District home.The person who is accused of the violent act was the very person responsible for protecting these children from the dangers of the world.

Helping the most vulnerable in a community is the responsibility of everyone. These awful crimes are unfortunately not the only instances of violent abuse against children in the city, but at least with the media attention these cases are getting right now, community leaders are making it known how citizens can help.

Mayor Ed Gainey called this a “pandemic of gun violence” in a statement following the shootings of Vickers and Devonte White, a 29-year-old Wilkinsburg man, the night of March 30. 

Gainey’s suggestion for illegal firearm trafficking is promising, but like any “pandemic,” it takes the active involvement of everyone capable of contributing. And when it comes to keeping our city safe, that contribution can come from anyone–including those who might be feeling helpless after these recent events.

Last weekend at a neighborhood meeting held in the Tree of Life Open Bible Church, Gainey told community members to report suspicious activity to the police through phone calls or anonymous complaint forms. He recommended taking photos and video footage when possible, and especially of license plates.

Here at Duquesne, we encourage students to help, too, by donating time and resources. 

Community outreaches designed for children in Pittsburgh, including Jeremiah’s Place, provide a space for children of families dealing with crises. One converted home in Homewood, ARThouse, encourages children to enter into a “creative sanctuary” where they can paint and sculpt safely away from street violence.

While these neighborhood solutions do not directly solve the problem of violent abuse, they certainly help community members to be more aware of how they can contribute to the wellbeing of their city when things feel the most helpless.