CINCINNATI, Ohio — Cincinnati is one of many Ohio cities seeing a near-record rise in crime, and a violent weekend showed city leaders the human cost. In the wake of widespread shootings, advocates against gun violence are calling on the city to respond by supporting local programs.

What You Need To Know

  • Neighborhoods United is calling for intervention to fight the root causes of gun violence

  • The group wants city investment in job and education programs targeting low-income neighborhoods

  • Neighborhoods United is presenting their anti-violence plan to the city on Friday

Just days after a shootout killed two and injured at least nine people in Grant Park, neighborhood leaders had a cease-fire rally.

Brian Garry, with Neighborhoods United organized the rally to inspire action.

"A person died, right there on the sidewalk, feet away from us," he said.

Garry said communities need to make sure that kind of violence is unacceptable in their streets and it starts by addressing the root causes.

Twenty-one people were shot Sunday in four separate incidents, leaving four people dead.

“This ranks up there with the record numbers of people being shot at one time in Cincinnati,” Garry said.

Besides the high body count, Garry said there was another disturbing trend.

“There was no surprise where these shootings occurred," he said. "They occurred in poor areas.”

Garry and Neighborhoods United have been working for months to develop a plan to stop the violence, forming committees made up of law enforcement, faith leaders and community activists. He said economic concerns were at the top of their list of issues to address.

“We’ve divested in poor neighborhoods and this is the result this is what happens,” he said.

Garry said things have only gotten worse since the pandemic.

“Youth are on the street with no rec centers open, churches are closed," he said. "We need community institutions like communities and rec centers to open their doors.”

Groups like the Urban League are trying to change that. Darron Hunter is one of their community outreach advocates and he said it's his job to physically be there for neighborhoods after they experience violence.

"We try to be that whole person that helps them get the relief that they need,” he said.

Hunter said reacting isn't enough though. He said more effort needs to go into prevention efforts that get people to forge relationships and connect with their neighborhood.

Hunter said communities that care about their neighborhoods take responsibility for making their streets a safe and pleasant place to live.

"The more that we interact with this park and the more activities and the more events that we do in these different parks," he said. "We want people to know that this is what a park is for it’s for our kids to feel safe in.”

Garry said events and outreach are just a start.

The Neighborhoods United plan also recommends programming that addresses jobs, spiritual needs, education and law enforcement relations.

Garry said to put those plans into action, the programs will need city support.

"We have to really not just pay lip service but back it up with the city’s budget to show that this is important,” he said.

City councilmember Greg Landsman said Cincinnati is already getting started.

“We passed one of the largest increases in youth jobs in this budget and now we’ve got to get that program up and running," he said. "Now there’s a real urgency to it.”

He believes another component of fighting the violence is getting guns and violent criminals off the street.

Neighborhoods United will present its plan to stop the violence to the city on the steps of Cincinnati City Hall on Friday at 3 p.m. The group hopes council considers its suggestions as it begins next year's budget.