Davenport’s Mayor Frank Klipsch hosted the city’s first Youth Community Action Summit on violence Thursday, June 14.
The event served as a brain storming session for city leaders and members of the community to find ways to address the wave of teen violence in the area.
“I’ve been here 52 years and I have never seen so much shooting, killing, robbing and all that… so that’s when we have to buckle up, we have to get together and figure out who is putting these guns on the streets,” says Davenport’s NAACP President Vera Kelly.
Mostly city employees, and community organizers participated in the conversation, although Mayor Klipsch says the event was a good first step his goal is to bring more people from the community to the table to hear from them.
“This is a series of generations that have been struggling with the same issues. Underemployment, lack of education, some hopelessness as an example poverty. You do what you have to do to survive. We’ve got to provide better and more wholistic and reasonable alternatives to how you get by and survive,” says Klipsch.
One of the solutions discussed is to develop a community outreach program to extend the conversation.
“I think one of the thing that we need to do is to get out into the neighborhoods. Get to the people that are being impacted and talk to our young people, our families, some of the people that weren’t here today,” says Sue Davison.
Klipsch says this event was the first of many summits, he hopes to plan another one sometime in July.
Recorders in attendance at the first Youth Community Action Summit plan to talk about the best ways to implement ideas brought to the table in another meeting scheduled in July.
Thursday, June 14th's Davenport Youth Community Action Summit comes in the wake of an increase in car thefts and shootings, including one 16-year-old in broad daylight.
"Just last weekend, we arrested seven juveniles for car thefts, and more than 50 over the last year," Police Chief Paul Sikorski said. "Yet we're still reporting stolen cars on a daily basis, aren't we?"
That's because "arrests are reactionary, and (the community needs) to be proactive," Sikorski said.
Jason Blair Roberts, one of the founders of "Boots on the Ground," was also shot and killed this past weekend. The organization is devoted to curbing gun violence in the Quad Cities. His family says he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
All of this will culminate in the summit meeting Thursday.
According to the meeting description, "The Youth Community Action Summit is the first step in a longer process of conversations to tackle the issues our community faces."