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Community leaders respond to recent shootings in Columbia

The Columbia Police Department has responded to four separate shooting incidents in a week and six since June 15.

No arrests have been made for any of the reports.

Lorenzo Lawson, Executive Director of the Youth Empowerment Center in Columbia, said the recent crime is a “community-wide disease.”

“I think it all pretty much boils down to economy, lack of jobs, lack of opportunities for these young people,” he said. “So in my opinion this is the by-product of not having positive things in place and these kids not having a positive alternative to this street life.”

Lawson said the Youth Empowerment Zone is working to provide children of all ages with opportunities to education and employment. He said coming up with the funding to continue their programs has been difficult.

Two years ago Lawson founded the Silence to Violence campaign. Every Friday during the summer Lawson and others in the movement go to the communities experiencing crime to offer their support.

“We want the good citizens to know they’re not there by themselves and that they can come out of their houses, because most of them feel like they are in prisons in their own homes,” he said.

Lawson said the city needs to come together to end the violence.

“Law enforcement is in place to try to catch them after the crime is committed,” he said. “We are here to try to prevent the crime from happening. So we’re all working together.”

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