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Community, police call for help on South Side

At last Saturday's gathering at the Mary Nelson Youth Center, many of the roughly 150 people in attendance took the opportunity to vent frustrations.

"Hopefully this will be a step in moving toward a solution," said Syracuse Chief of Police Frank Fowler. "I'm excited to see people from within their own community gathering together to address the same problem."

Fowler said in the coming weeks he would be speaking with community groups and talking with leaders and neighbors about the next steps.

Yet a little more then 24 hours later, a group of teens fired guns into the dozen anti-violence demonstrators that had gathered in Kirk Park Sunday afternoon.

Community members had many suggestions for what, and who, was to blame for the most recent rash of teen and youth violence. Speakers targeted parents who don't question how their teenagers suddenly aquire hundreds of dollars in cash -- or worse, create an environment where their kids feel responsible to provide for the family, by any means necessary.

But the Syracuse City School District's out-of-school suspension system received special attention, with several speakers questioning the logic of the method. As a disciplinary action, a student awaiting a superintendent's hearing is suspended from school until the hearing determines appropriate course of action for the student's infraction.

But sending a troubled student off school property and into the street only opens the door for a student to act on violent threats, or eliminates any daytime protection the student might have had from the threat of violence, some parents and neighbors argued.

The kids are angry

One of the most frightening things about the most recent spikes in violence is the age of the offenders and victims -- they are only children.

While some speakers Saturday questioned rhetorically why so many young people have so much anger, others pointed out the reasons: broken homes, an education system that is failing them, a community that offers little hope of employment after school.

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