Last night, dozens of community service providers and human service organizations came together under one roof in Northeast Baltimore, heeding the call from an area service provider and a leading democratic candidate for city council in the fourth council district, Zachery Dingle and his organization, Jumoke Inc.
The Emergency Violence Response Summit is a community-driven approach to helping reduce the level of violence we have witnessed across Baltimore over the past five plus years; and these service-providers, most of them African American led organizations and businesses, who are on the front lines in servicing many of the juvenile and young adult offenders. Jumoke for example, who was the organization that called for this summit, is an organization that spans throughout the city, which providers residential services to the city’s at-risk youth.
“We aren’t campaign-cycle clinicians, we do this work year round, regardless of an election; so while many of them are here today and gone tomorrow, we will still be around helping to serve the citizens of all Baltimore communities, especially those who have been tossed to the side and labeled hopeless.” ~ Zachery Dingle, Owner of Jumoke, Inc.
Dingle, who founded the company in 1999, called on his fellow service providers to come together and tasked them with the responsibility of hitting the streets and providing their expert services to those who need it. Launching an effort last night entitled #DonateEight, Dingle and his colleagues gave out purple t-shirts with the Ravens QB Lamar Jackson #8 on them, with the pledge to donate eight hours of service a week to helping to solve the issues that continue to plague Baltimore, while also pledging to bring eight others into the movement so they to can give their eight hours and bring in eight people.
“This is the start of something bigger than me, and bigger than Jumoke,” said Dingle, who never once mentioned his council candidacy during the two-hour solution summit. “Tonight, I am here as a concerned resident, a loving and worried parent and the owner of Jumoke, looking for solutions not complaints. Tomorrow I will hit the doors again as Zac Dingle the city council candidate, offering the same solutions to curbing crime in this city that I have demonstrated over the past twenty-five plus years, because this isn’t some campaign pledge for an election cycle, I live and breathe helping my community and having the clinical background to help our children get out of that gang-infested and violent mindset.”
Dingle and his wife Lisett – who is a well known local immigration and defense attorney, are active in the 4th district, serving as little league sports coaches and offering holiday giveaways. It was Jumoke who helped pay for the cameras that patrol the Alameda Shopping Center, home to the now closed down Shoppers food market. Dingle and the clinical therapists who were at the table refused to allow any media or politicians into the summit, because they didn’t want it to be about promotion or politics, and they certainly didn’t want someone to try and use it as a sound bite or campaign photo-op.
However, they did welcome one public servant into the meeting, as invited guest former Mayor Sheila Dixon was in the front row listening, learning and providing unique insight into local government resources and services that can help their efforts.
“I’m here to listen and learn from the men and women who are on the front lines of this battle day in, and day out, fighting to help clean up our streets,” said Dixon, who attended the meeting without any campaign staff or material, and a few days before she is set to rollout her own comprehensive crime plan. “I am serious about helping to reduce the crime epidemic we have witnessed grow out of control over the past five to ten years, and it goes beyond simply releasing some crime plan on paper without understanding and realizing that one politician cannot solve the city’s crime problem, it takes a group effort with talented leaders such as those who were gathered at this summit tonight.”
Dixon told the group that’s how her administration was able to reduce crime to historic lows when she was mayor, because they had a remarkable team around her, including some of the providers that were at the table last night.
Dingle says that Dixon was invited not because of her current campaign for mayor, but because she understands the ins and outs of how to operate within city government to ensure that those at the table understand how they can obtain city resources and best maximize those efforts. “The reason I am running to represent the fourth council district as their next council representative is because we need someone down at City Hall with a keen understanding and background in crime control and prevention, who understands how to run an effective business, able to balance a budget to do more with less, and someone who isn’t going to ignore parts of the district that they don’t feel welcomed like many of the worst parts of the district that have been ignored for the past fifteen years,” he stated.
“I will be on the ground helping to reduce crime by working directly with the parents, children and families down in Old York or up in Homewood. Wherever the services are needed, you can count on Councilman Dingle to be there with a hands-on approach. Many of the folks running for the seat now have no clue as to the real issues happening on the streets here in the district, let alone how to deal with the trauma-enforced care that will need to be implemented to help deal with the pain and ravage they deal with. I am the only candidate with a background in doing what I say I’m going to do on my literature, and it’s not just some empty campaign promises that poll well amongst the electorate.”
Those in attendance last night spoke to the trauma that many are experiencing across the city, including Dr. Michael Sinclair of Morgan State University’s School of Behavioral Science, who all but wrote the book on trauma-informed care, which got one step closer to becoming law in Baltimore last night after the council passed Councilman Zeke Cohen’s trauma bill, sending it to the Mayor for his signature. Sinclair stated that this kind of approach is a transformational change that will take time and investment and won’t happen during one [political] cycle, or four-year term.
Many in the audience questioned Councilman Cohen’s approach to this legislation, given that many of them were not contacted regarding this legislation even though many in the room were experts on the subject matter. One provider put it more bluntly: “As you can see by the turnout here tonight, not a single white service provider such as Kennedy Krieger, Johns Hopkins, etc…are in these seats trying to come up with solutions because their children aren’t being affected by this crime epidemic,” said Time Inc. employee Rodell Bailey-El. “Yet in still, they continue to receive the big grants, but when it comes to treating children and families in the more downtrodden communities of Baltimore, they call us, the colored service providers, but we don’t get the same level of grants to sustain and expand the work we are doing.”
He also compared the Cohen approach to his legislation much to the same way as how these white institutions pick the brains of African American service-providers, steal their ideas and then run with it as their own. But they felt as if someone like former Mayor Dixon would understand their commitment to the city and the services in which they provide. And by the end of the discussion, solutions were put forth and follow-up calls and meetings were set to ensure that this small but growing group of concerned citizens and providers have a direct impact on the crime that many at City Hall have all but ignored over the years.
“We aren’t campaign-cycle clinicians, we do this work year round, regardless of an election; so while many of them are here today and gone tomorrow, we will still be around helping to serve the citizens of all Baltimore communities, especially those who have been tossed to the side and labeled hopeless,” Zac Dingle stated as he closed out the summit.
We will continue to follow this violence solution movement, and give you continuing coverage on their efforts to help reduce crime here in the City of Baltimore.