GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Police say more assaults involving guns are happening in 2021; the only difference between this year and last is that these shootings aren’t killing people.
Authorities report nearly 72% more assaults with guns are happening in Grand Rapids.
“They’re in survival mode. They are looking for opportunities,” said Gregg Hampshire.
The Grand Rapids Urban League is familiar with these problems in young people, stating they usually start when school no longer becomes an escape for them.
“They looked forward to that 8-10 hours a day of getting out of the house, because their home situation isn’t the greatest. The only deterrent, or refuge, was going to school,” said Darius Mitchell, Director Housing and Economic Security, Urban League.
Take away school, and the structure is gone. Food insecurity increases, families become more stressed and more free time means more time to learn bad habits.
“A lot of the problems are coming from modeled behavior at home. If you don’t address it at home, it’s hard for them to have something that’s tangible to hang onto when they go back,” explained Mitchell.
These systemic problems can take a lot of work to overcome, creating the perfect storm for increased crime.
Mitchell says, seeking help after repeated witnessing of crimes means it gets buried.
“We did a fantastic focus group with youth right here in the 49507/49503 zip codes, and had 80 youth come in. When you mention soft, that’s a very real fear for these young people. The perception of being soft will put a target on their back,” Mitchell said.
That’s why the Urban League says it’s important for them to be in the neighborhood, where the young people who are at-risk are at.
Grand Rapids Police say, it's a problem they've seen throughout the city.
“These are the ones are, people are getting hit, and thankfully, they survive," said Sgt. Dan Adams "We look at these like every one of those is a potential homicide.”
The Grand Rapids Urban League says once the mentality changes, then things can start moving and say mentorship is the vessel they’ve found success with.