SAN ANTONIO – East Side residents have grown tired of the violence that plagues their community and some are looking for ways to keep it from continuing further.
Martin Henderson has not stopped fighting for his community and was involved in a city-run program called Group Violence Intervention.
“We are able to build relationships. We were able to direct individuals to services that they didn’t even know existed here in the city,” Henderson said. “It was very effective.”
Henderson is also the CEO of a nonprofit organization called Fatherhood Matters, Inc., which strives to educate fathers and have them present in their children’s lives.
Although he has helped a lot of people, Henderson said he knows the problem is bigger.
“So many young people that have shared with me their hopes and dreams, their aspirations of going to college, want more out of life, and then days, weeks, months later, you are burying them,” Henderson said.
Residents want to live in a community where they feel safe and secure from crime.
Earlier this year, 4-year-old De-Earlvion Whitley was one of the youngest victims caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting.
“My house, it’s been vandalized,” said Harold Richardson, an East Side resident.
Richardson reflected on the violence he’s seen in his neighborhood.
“It’s when you leave here that you have to watch your back. Then being elderly, we have to leave early and lock ourselves in, so it’s a prison,” Richardson said.
Tyler Clark said he remembers when a multiagency operation was conducted on the East Side. Operation Triple Beam resulted in the arrests of more than 200 alleged criminals.
“Streets were blocked off. I just saw people getting handcuffed. It’s sad because kids are seeing that,” Clark said.
Many want to know what needs to be done to prevent more violence.
“The businesses in the community, start opening up your doors, giving these young people opportunities to work. Give them internships at the law firm. Show them that there is more to life,” Henderson said.
Henderson said getting to know your neighbors can also help, but holding leaders accountable is crucial.
“It needs to be more involvement with our city leaders. Don’t just come around when the cameras are rolling. Really show that you are invested in the community,” Henderson said.