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Black elected officials promote anti-violence events, including one bringing police to a church

Black elected officials
Ariel Worthy

The Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition announced a collection of anti-violence events around city to address the increase in crime in Pittsburgh.

The group includes Pittsburgh City Councilors Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle, Allegheny County Councilor Olivia Bennett, and state Representatives Jake Wheatley and Ed Gainey, who is running for Pittsburgh mayor.

Under the banner of "Reclaiming the Village," the series of events will kick off this weekend. The first installment will partner with Faith & Blue, which organizes faith-based communities and law enforcement agencies to improve police-community relations. On Oct. 10, officers are slated to speak to the congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church about community-building efforts.

Events will continue in the weeks and months ahead, the leaders said at a Thursday-morning press conference. The events will end with a "Peace Summit" in May 2022.

Burgess said he hopes to build on his Stop the Violence Fund , which allocates a sum of money equal to 5 percent of the police budget and uses the money for violence-prevention. It currently has $2 million.

"We look forward to a new administration coming in January," he said, a reference to the impending departure of City Councilor Bill Peduto. "We hope to work with the new mayor and work even more closely with the new administration."

Gainey, who is the heavy favorite to be Peduto's replacement, said he believes a public health plan is necessary to address violence.

"Our children didn't create this culture, they inherited it," Gainey said. "We need a plan to eradicate and create peace in our city. It comes from all of us, from politics to nonprofits... We all have a role to play to eliminate [violence] and have more peace in our streets."

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.
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