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Leon Bibb: Murder affects us all

Cleveland's problem with gun violence isn't new, but it's getting worse, and now no corner of the city is untouched.

CLEVELAND — It has been a violent year in the city.

Cleveland has recorded more than a hundred homicides so far in 2021. Last year at this time, there were 84. Mostly, the killings involve the erupting sound of gunfire.

At Cleveland City Hall, officials have long wrestled with the problem of killings in the city. The other day, the emotional sting of murder reached into City Hall itself, this time the victim being the 24-year-old grandson of the mayor himself.

Mayor Frank G. Jackson, long grieving over the city's desperate homicide numbers, felt his own household rattled with the murder of Frank Q. Jackson, whose body was found on Cleveland's southeast side.

For every victim of such violence, there are other victims, too: family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers. The community itself sheds tears, which raises questions of what can be done.

Some experts cite he explosion of the murder rate partially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cut off resources that would otherwise stem crime. There are also the age-old issues of mental health, domestic violence, gang warfare, illegal drugs, and the ready availability of guns. All of those issues have their fingers on the triggers.   

It's not just Northeast Ohio's larger cities of Cleveland and Akron, but suburbs as well. This year, 17 of Cuyahoga County's 58 suburbs have recorded at least one homicide. 

Experts struggle to stop the killing, but also wrestle with the social whys of the horrible statistics. Questions are many; answers that work are far fewer. But one thing is for certain: Almost daily, our newscasts show scenes of shootings, of lives taken.

In the pictures are living victims left behind wringing their hands over senseless losses. There are statistics that we see, but the grief on faces screams so much more about the crime surrounding us.

In many ways, we are all victims.

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