PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Saturday morning’s homicide of a 15 year old marks the sixth in the city of Pine Bluff since the start of 2021, and the second where the victim was a teenager. Now, neighbors and community leaders are coming together to try and find solutions so that the series of violent crimes doesn’t become a trend.
Pine Bluff is still reeling from one act of violence after another, with the latest homicide happening less than a week after the city’s fifth. For neighbors in the area, the amount of shootings seems to be never ending. “I feel like it’s almost becoming normalized,” said Kerri Williams, who volunteers with community group United Citizens of Pine Bluff. Lawmakers agree that the violence has become an issue, with six deaths happening only three months into the year. “One is too much,” said State Rep. Vivian Flowers of District 17. “There’s a lot that needs to be done, even down to basic lighting.”
Both Flowers and Williams agrees that something needs to be done to teach younger generations not to answer with violence, and an agreed upon starting point is within the community. Flowers says, “The only way that happens is if we work together,” which is also the goal of United Citizens. The community based organization works with neighbors to find solutions to crime, and is finishing up a public safety study conducted with the help of residents. “We need to start from the community to work with parents, and then it’s going to have to move into the schools,” Williams says.
She adds that the issue is a multigenerational one, with children now becoming involved with the violence. “Our city is full of trauma and that trauma isn’t being dealt with,” Williams says, pointing out the latest shooting. “That young man’s life was just getting started.”
Flowers says there is a positive in the midst of tragedy – three of the six homicides this year have been solved by Pine Bluff detectives. The issue now is just stopping the shootings before they can happen.