McKeesport resident seeks more community involvement by council
McKeesport resident Stephanie Murray approached council on Wednesday night with a plea for more involvement and more diligence in seeking funds to curb violence in the city.
Acknowledging that violence is affecting citizens across the nation — predominantly black men ranging from teenage years to young adulthood — Murray appealed to council for help in resolving unsolved murders and preventing future crimes.
“We desperately need justice for the families whose loved ones were murdered because of senseless crimes,” Murray said. “Regardless of the situation, the victims' families and friends are crying out for closure, justice and peace within themselves.”
Representing the group initially organized as We Need Justice Too McKeesport, which is reinventing itself as Take Action Mon Valley, Murray asked council for help.
“We have heard the excuses why things are the way they are, but we are in a state of emergency and the excuses have got to … be replaced with solutions,” she said, citing options from additional police to walk the beat, bulletproof cameras in undisclosed locations, additional playgrounds and a more transparent council.
Mayor Michael Cherepko agreed with most of Murray's remarks, but took issue with her suggestion that council be more active and transparent. He took issue with the word “transparent,” noting that it's not usually suggested unless a speaker implies that business is being hidden.
“In my opinion, this is the best council we've had,” Cherepko said. “Their hearts are in the right place. There's not a person up here who is not concerned, and they are very involved with what goes on in this community.”
While each council person volunteers during city activities and programs, Murray's remarks led some to believe she thinks it's not enough.
Councilman Jim Barry, for example, has been involved with the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club throughout his life as a childhood member, volunteer board member and director.
“I'm with the youth of this community 8-10 hours every day,” Barry said after the meeting. “I love what we do, and I think we make a difference. We try to reach kids at an early age. I don't know what else to do.”
Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery, who has been a liaison between the Take Action Mon Valley group, the city and regional police, said she understands her colleagues are involved. She asked that they make themselves available for meetings and programs that specifically involve the issue of violent crime.
“They do need to see more than me and the mayor at these meetings,” Walker-Montgomery said. “Just seeing your faces would help.”
Murray asked that council make Take Action Mon Valley a priority so McKeesport can be on the map for solving the issue of violent crime, rather than perpetuating it.
Walker asked fellow councilors and the administration to put pressure on state and federal government to dedicate dollars to ending violence. Knowing that funds are allocated for everything from national defense to education, she wants more to focus on what's plaguing cities across the United States.
“We have a war right here in America, and black men are dying,” Walker-Montgomery said. “We lose them to jail and to (violence). Literally, a generation is dying.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Forward Township couple, Florida man arrested in drug sting
- Report identifies Mon-Yough residents who are at risk in train disasters
- Suspect in multiple Mon Valley armed robberies arrested
- Winter weather likely to shorten summer vacation, delay commencement in East Allegheny
- Mon Valley officials optimistic salt supplies will last
- Wilmerding has big plans for borough’s 125th anniversary
- Day of prayer at McKeesport church shines light on HIV, AIDS
- Elizabeth Township promotes police veteran to chief
- White Oak seeks funds to stabilize road
- McKeesport heritage center event recognizes famous black Mon Valley musicians
- Duquesne Elementary School students join the ranks of junior constables