Activists call for action over local murder rate

Published: Sep. 21, 2016 at 6:26 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2016 at 12:02 AM EDT
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. - National Action Network leaders are demanding local leaders and law enforcement step up efforts to address underlying issues of neighborhood
"If the amount of people that died in the black community, died in the white community, something would be done about it," Elder James Johnson said at Wednesday's press conference. "We are sick and tired of our governors, our mayors and our county officials ignoring the deaths of these young black males."
Activists said the root of the current murder rate is not being addressed. According to a press release, activists cite issues such as drug
and gun trafficking, poverty as well as education inequality. Johnson said money is not being invested in black communities; he also said local schools were failing kids. 
There were 26 murders in North Charleston this year, according to police; police report 12 murders in city of Charleston while Berkeley County had three and Dorchester County had two.

Each department was approached for comment, in addition to Charleston County School District.

"Since being elected Sheriff, we have worked very hard to build relationships throughout the county, in all neighborhoods and across all demographic groups," Berkeley County Sheriff Lewis said. "We are working very closely with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners using a myriad of strategies in order to help reduce crime and,  more importantly, keep people safe. We have made a tremendous amount of drug and gun arrests and hope that these cases will result in the removal of those responsible for many years to come so that the great people of Berkeley County can enjoy the quality of life they deserve."

According to Major Tony Phinney with Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, a team of deputies identified and targeted violent crime areas and other citizen complaints in early 2016.  "The Saturation Team also makes numerous non-crime citizen contacts to keep an open dialog with the community and gather information on citizen complaints," Phinney said. "We have not established a clear link that our saturation efforts have lowered our violent
crime, but the effort is showing some success without a heavy handed approach toward dealing with crime that can sometimes sweep up law abiding citizens in the effort."
"The Charleston County School Board recently adopted accountability measures focused on continually increasing the numbers of students who are graduated ready to enter career training programs, Trident Technical College, and four-year colleges," Charleston County Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait said. "We will continue to do everything we can to work with families to nurture and support our youth."
Elder Johnson said the National Action Network will be holding community meetings in Oct. to discuss the issue.
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