Charleston city leaders address Eastside community after deadly violence

Charleston city leaders address Eastside community after deadly violence

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston community is now asking city leaders to do more for their neighborhood which has been plagued by violent crimes.

On Tuesday, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, Police Chief Luther Reynolds, and other city officials came to a neighborhood meeting for the Eastside neighborhood.

The Eastside Community Development Corporation was responsible for organizing the meeting, which was meant to give residents a chance to address the concerns they have in the neighborhood.

The meeting comes after 41-year-old Timothy Haman Jr. was shot and killed Thursday evening on Hanover Street.

This marks the sixth homicide in the city of Charleston this year.

At the meeting, residents felt like their neighborhood was being left behind, and little was being done about other shootings that have happened in the area.

Latonya Gamble, Eastside neighborhood association president, addressed Mayor Tecklenburg with her concerns.

“We’ve never had a press conference in this neighborhood, and we’ve had numerous murders in this neighborhood,” said Gamble. “We really just want you to be fair.”

Other people felt like there was a lot of division within the neighborhood itself, and officials need to talk about underlying issues of race and gentrification when dealing with the crimes in the area.

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said that the police department is doing a lot to help out the community in addressing the violent crimes, but he says they need the help of the neighborhood to do more.

“If we don’t get upset about that, if we don’t voice our concerns, if we don’t show up whether it’s a press conference or whatever, there’s something wrong with us,” Reynolds said.

The city has put out a release with all the initiatives they are working on in the Eastside Neighborhood.

Police Initiatives:

  • An update on the arrest of Shannon Lamont Johnson, 18, of West Lenevar Drive who is charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime in relation to the homicide that occurred Thursday, August 8, 2019, near 43 Hanover Street.
  • Five new surveillance cameras to be installed this year.
  • Stepped up patrols in the area.
  • Every Wednesday, officers partner with Roper St. Francis, Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center, Franklin C. Fetter Family Health Center, MUSC, Lowcountry Food Bank, The Charleston Center, local area farmers and grocers, and Access Health for the Farmacy program, which provides free fruits and vegetables, information and resources to help connect individuals to the care they need to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
  • Assisted with food and clothing distribution to people in need in Mall Park.
  • The police department hosts 11 weeks of midnight basketball.
  • Officers volunteer in the Lunch Buddy program (weekly mentoring with elementary school students).
  • Every year, officers assist with toy deliveries with Toys for Tots.
  • Participated in the gift card giveaway in conjunction with the Star Gospel Mission.
  • Representatives from the department attended the Stop the Violence rally in September 2018.

Parks Initiatives

  • Ongoing light fixture installation and repairs, including 12 repairs and three new lights installed this year.
  • Annual tree pruning efforts are underway. Last year, 43 trees were pruned, and an assessment is underway to identify locations for pruning this year.
  • More than 20 street trees have been planted in the neighborhood since last fall.
  • Earlier this summer, America-Amherst Pocket Park was renovated and replanted.
  • Saturday October 13, 2018, Keep Charleston Beautiful, Mayor’s Office staff and Eastside residents began a neighborhood cleanup campaign, which sparked the neighborhood’s “Second Saturday at Simmons Sweep” monthly litter cleanup walks.
  • The city has received a grant to replace the playground equipment at Mall Park Playground.

Quality of Life Initiatives

  • Eastside Community Job Expo was held Saturday, December 1, at St. Julian Devine, sponsored by ECDC, City of Charleston, City Housing Authority, M. B. Kahn Construction Company.
  • The Grace Homes Affordable Housing Project is under construction with expected completion in Summer 2020.
  • “Walk for Education” was held February 23, 2019 sponsored by National Society of Black Engineers, City of Charleston and Palmetto Community Action Partnership, at St. Julian Devine.

Traffic and Transportation Initiatives

  • Funding is in place for traffic calming measures to be installed on Aiken Street, as soon as the petition is received from the neighborhood.
  • The introduction of limited street sweeping as the neighborhood considers whether to request mandatory towing on street sweeping days.

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