The O.K. Program working in conjunction with Little Rock police held a homicide forum this afternoon at Dunbar Middle School.
The program, Before the Casket, focused on the effects of homicide on the community and urged area youth to take preventive measures to stop violence.
"This is an event to help you change your life before you end up in the casket," Sgt. Willie Davis of the LRPD said. "We've had death here on our streets – 34 last year. We don't have to go to Florida to get upset about this. What we have here is just as serious."
The program first walked students, parents and community members through the process police go through when dealing with a homicide.
"We don't solve crime," J.C. White, a Little Rock homicide detective, said. "The community solves crime. We need the community's help."
White and Terrell Vaughn, another homicide detective, explained the difficulty they had solving homicides without community cooperation and urged individuals to be forthcoming with
"It's not snitching," White said. "It's taking back your neighborhood."
Steve Nawojczyk, a former coroner in Pulaski County, then presented clips from "Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock," a documentary he was featured in while working for the county. Nawojczyk said that violence rose 300 percent during his time as coroner from 1983 to 1994. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black males in this country, Nawojczyk said.
A series of testimonies from family members of people killed followed.
"People would ask, 'Are you doing ok?' " Daniel Lewis, whose son, Daniel Harris, was bludgeoned to death with a brick in 2010, said. "I would always say, 'No'. The affliction hurts both sides. We lose one to life. They lose one to the penitentiary."