LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Little Rock City Director Doris Wright before Tuesday’s Board of Directors agenda meeting expressed why the city needs to pass the Youth Violence Prevention Project, a research-based project in partnership with the Derek Olivier Research Institute that aims to address homicides among African-Americans.
Last week, Wright presented her plan to the Board of Directors hoping to provide a better outline of how this project can be effective with their vote and the city's financial backing. According to Wright, she believes not all of the board directors read her ordinance for clarification.
"How can it not be vague? You don't know what you are dealing with," Wright said. "You don't know where the kids are, you don't know what's driving the homicides. You'll hear some people say it's drugs, some people say it's money, some people say it's domestic, some people say it's COVID. All of these factors have to be researched.”
According to Wright, she’s been working on the project before the death of Ja’Aliyah Hughes. She was the 10-year-old girl who was killed at Boyle Park more than a month ago. Wright said she and other youths in the city are the reasons the project is essential.
“We've got to get a handle on this. People are losing their children, young lives are being cut short, and then other lives are being ruined,” Wright said. “So what's more important? That we have a sales tax or that we address this issue?"
Wright said she's asking for the city of Little Rock to provide $700,000 in a three-year span which will fund the needs of the project.
Professor Edmond Davis is the Director of the Derek Olivier Research Institute. He said the data they will collect can help reduce the violence among youths, and they will follow trends in other major neighboring cities such as Tulsa, Memphis, and Birmingham.
"Looking at what's already been done, what our peers have done from the law enforcement standpoint, from the academic standpoint, from the resources standpoint for mental health,” Davis said. “That's pretty much the 8-ton gorilla in the room that nobody wants to talk about. Of course, it's all tied in there together."
Davis says it's also up to youths to help to collect the data they need for the project. Wright said before that can begin, the project has to be passed and believes the Board of Directors has an opportunity to do the right thing for the youths of Little Rock with their vote.
According to Wright, she does not plan to give up on her project despite the outcome of the vote made by board members.