Syracuse Truce campaign takes another step

The effort to end gun violence on the city of Syracuse’s streets took another step on Friday.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The effort to end gun violence on the city of Syracuse’s streets took another step on Friday.

Syracuse Truce leaders visited the downtown jail – this time to make a deal with inmates.

60 men tied to gun violence were told to turn away from guns. City leaders promised the men that if they turned away from the path to violence, the help would be there.

If they ignore the deal, their entire group risks Federal prison.

Police and other leaders made the same pitch to 30 men tied to gang and gun violence a few months ago.

“From now on we're going to do things differently,” Syracuse Chief Frank Fowler said during the March meeting.

The men who were summoned to the courtroom in March were a select audience.

“Look, we want you alive and not dead. It's not our goal to send you off to prison,” the chief said during the initial Syracuse Truce meeting.

But they were all warned that prison will be in their future if they continue to lead violent lives.

“From here on out, anyone who commits a gun homicide in the city, we're no only coming after you in the city, we're also going after everyone associated with the shooter,” Fowler said.

Syracuse Truce Project Coordinator Sheria Dixon has a $50,000 budget to coordinate more than 15 social service networks and, two months into the program, 25 teenagers and young men have made the call and asked for help. Three have taken high school equivalency exams.

“They're looking for jobs, they don't want to be on the streets and a lot of them are saying…I'm telling people to listen, this is not what you want to do any more, you can change,” Dixon said.

Syracuse Truce leaders say they are now ready to take the campaign to the next level.

The whole idea is to continue to spread the word, to get more gang members to understand the message and to see the message.

Recently, they've been handing out a brochure that reads, "The Killing Must stop.”

Soon, a billboard will bear the same words.

“We would love to not ever see someone shot by gun violence associated with gangs, however we know that is probably not the reality here in Syracuse,” Dixon said. “If we can keep the message of Truce out there, and keep those numbers very low, that's what we're looking for – to make some sort of a difference and I think we're on the right track of doing that.”

Leaders say they will continue to target the small group of people – less than 1 percent of the population – that’s responsible for most of Syracuse’s violent crime.

Police say that the city’s violent element is already seeing what’s in store.

The killing of Darrell Mobley in March on East Fayette Street triggered a large, four day enforcement effort on the city’s East Side.

Syracuse Police say they will release results of the crackdown next week.

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