WARREN - A peace summit is being held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, at New Freedom Missionary Baptist Church, 1590 Tod Ave., in the city in response to the eight homicides, various shootings and other acts of violence that occurred in Warren during 2013.
"We are hoping to identify what is causing a seeming increase in the number of violent incidents happening in the city," Mark Gavin Sr., a spokesman with the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, said. "We want to identify the root causes of violence. They may say drugs is one of the causes. But why?
"A deeper examination may identify the lack of opportunity as an underlying reason people turn to selling and using drugs," Gavin said.
The number of homicides in the city increased from five in 2012.
One of the things the group will consider is to bring a version of Youngstown's Community Initiative to Reduce Violence to the city.
"It is a three-tier program that focuses on finding ways to keep at-risk youth out of trouble, finding ways to prevent gangs and others from attracting younger recruits and working with local law enforcement agencies to locate active fugitives," Gavin said.
Gavin has gone door-to-door in the city's sixth ward to invite residents to attend the peace summit.
"We are looking to get as many people who are affected by violence to attend this meeting," he said. "What is happening in Warren is not new, but it is being highlighted in the news and by officials, so we believe this is an opportunity to take steps to do something about it."
The MVOC is working with the Warren Neighborhood Leadership Council and Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold in putting together this summit.
"It is imperative that we work together with law enforcement, clergy, neighborhood groups and adjoining cities to try and combat the violent crime that has hit our city," Rhonda Bennett, a community activist with the South West Neighborhood Association, said. "It is not a segmented population that these crimes happen to, but a citywide issue.
"Our hopes are to join forces and come up with successful outcomes to take our city back with the help of everyone that has a stake in it," she continued.
Guests at the program will include Mayor Doug Franklin, Youngstown-Warren Urban League President Tom Conely and Assistant Attorney Gen. Bob Fiatal.
Saffold, D-6th Ward, agreed that they are hoping on identifying solutions to the high murder rate, not only in the the sixth ward, but all over the city.
"We've had rallies, candelight vigils and other community events to address violence in the city," Saffold said. "With this we're hoping to concentrate on finding solutions from panelists, community leaders and from people in the community who are living with the violence in their neighborhoods."
Saffold said she is pleased that members of the administration, law enforcement and clergy will be involved in this peace summit.