Group seeks end to violence in Lowcountry

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A group working to stop a rising trend in violence in the Lowcountry held a news conference on Thursday.

Charleston County Council Member Henry Darby and the United Black Men of Charleston said they plan to continue to push for change and work to end violence in 2017.

The group said that entails addressing more than guns on the street.

"Business opportunities, job opportunities, repairing the families, establishing the dialogue," Deandre Muhammad said. "The next step is to move forward in terms of engaging what we call the critical mass of our young people, to really allow them to open themselves up to see what the problem is."

A comparison of end-of-year murder statistics showed Charleston County has remained steady in the number of murders in 2016, a total of nine, compared to last year. But Berkeley County reported eight murders in 2016, double the number it reported in 2015. Dorchester County reported four murders in 2016, but statistics for 2015 were not immediately available.

The City of Charleston reported 12 murders this year, a decrease compared with last year's total.

The highest number of murders occurred in North Charleston, which reported 31, nine more than reported in 2015. North Charleston Police say three of those were considered justifiable homicides.

The group said they are undeterred by the increased murder rate in some areas, adding "change doesn't happen overnight."

Since the group formed in April, they've been doing outreach in the Dorchester Waylyn neighborhood, and said their roundtables and neighborhood walks are making an impact.

Leaders hope the grassroots movement spreads across the Lowcountry

"The goal for 2017 is to make our communities safe and decent places to live," Muhammad said.

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