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Lightning strikes twice

Salisbury Police intensified efforts in the West End after citizens complained about flying bullets and street violence. Is it coincidence or irony that two people have been killed in recent weeks — on the other side of town?
One of those deaths is the most tragic of coincidences.
Marquis Antonio Feamster, 23, was shot to death one month after family and friends released balloons in memory of his sister Treasure, tragically killed seven years ago at the age of 13. The lightning of gun violence has struck the Feamster family twice. That’s more than any family should have to bear.
All of Salisbury has to wonder what is going on with street crime. Police say there is no connection between Marquis’ murder in the 300 block of East Fisher Street this week and last month’s killing of Shanta Maurice Lomax, 36, in the 900 block of East Lafayette Street. But both shootings happened in our community, and that’s connection enough to worry residents. What is happening in our city — indeed, in our country?
Americans are living longer, but African-American males continue to die younger than all other groups, due to heart disease and homicide. In fact, homicide is the No. 1 cause of death among black males ages 10-24, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Though blacks account for only 13 percent of the country’s population, FBI crime statistics indicate half of 2011’s homicide victims were black. What can be done to improve the prospects for these young men? What can they do? What can we do?
After Treasure Feamster was killed in gang crossfire, Salisbury did a lot of soul-searching, and other cities joined in. Gang summits held here identified eight areas to work on to stem the growth of gangs: law enforcement, job opportunities, mentoring, recreation, schools, parental support, community awareness and faith-based initiatives.
Police have not said if gangs had anything to do with these recent deaths. But the same areas are vital to fighting urban crime in general. Without sufficient support, encouragement, education and opportunity, how can youths growing up in poverty have any hope for a better future? As writer and pastor John Maxwell has said, “Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.”
Top priority right now is finding and prosecuting the people behind these killings — a matter of justice and preventing more violence. Law enforcement has a crucial role in keeping our streets safe. But police can’t solve this problem alone.

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