The News Journal - Outraged, Markell Has Plans to Stop Killing
Gubernatorial candidate Jack Markell stood at the corner of Sixth and Madison streets Monday morning as a Congo Funeral Home hearse passed by, leading the funeral procession of 18-year-old Jaiquon Moore to nearby Tabernacle Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral.
Moore was shot dead a week ago not far from the corner where Markell released a list of ways he would address the problem of gun crime in Wilmington and around the state. Moore was Wilmington's 16th homicide victim of 2008.
Markell, in his third term as state treasurer, faces Lt. Gov. John Carney Jr. in the Democratic primary Sept. 9.
With several Wilmington pastors and community workers in attendance, Markell said he was outraged by the increase in gun crime.
"We've got to wrap our arms around the children of this state," he said. "This goes beyond politics. It goes to outrage."
Markell said he had no idea that the funeral procession would pass by his campaign event, but the Rev. Tyrone C. Williams Sr., founder of the Churches Take A Corner anti-violence effort and a member of Tabernacle, said the juxtaposition of the two events was no coincidence.
"That's the Lord," Johnson said. "I call it divine intervention -- backed by confirmation." When God is at work, Johnson said, "People show up and resources show up."
Johnson said Markell's plan and leadership would make a real difference.
Markell earlier this year made $9 million in proposals for addressing the root of such crime, with strategies for comprehensive youth programs, addressing addictions, screening everyone arrested for drugs and alcohol, and doing more to help ex-offenders when they return to communities after incarceration.
Carney released his plan several months ago, focusing aggressive law enforcement efforts on "hot spots," following up on the "straw purchasers," who buy guns for those who cannot legally do so, and by doing more to coordinate police efforts across jurisdictions.
He also would urge prosecutors to stop dropping gun charges in plea bargain agreements.
That's an idea that Bob Miller, owner of Miller's Gun Center, agrees with. Miller doesn't like Markell's plan to ban assault weapons and said dealers who sell at gun shows still are required to abide by federal and local laws.
"Personally, I think every firearms transaction should be done through a licensed dealer," Miller said.
Markell says no weapon called a "Street Sweeper" should be on the streets, but Miller said that weapon has been outlawed for at least a decade.
"If you bought it legally 10 years ago, should you lose your property because they changed the law?" he asked.
Street gun sales a problem
Gun crime won't be stopped by focusing on people who go to gun stores, Miller said.
"What's sold on the streets is the problem," Miller said. "You do that with a task force, with 'jump-out squads.' You have to stop drugs and stop the gun sales on the streets."
Patricia Brown, whose brother recently died of complications from gunshot wounds he suffered 30 years ago, supports Markell's plan.
"I believe he'll do what he says," she said. "For others, it's politics as usual. But we're past political. We want to save our children."
Markell campaign worker Phill Davis, a recent graduate of Delaware State University, said he is proud to have grown up on Fifth Street, but that it takes more than a city address to understand the problem. His best friend was killed two years ago, he said, and his cousin was a friend of Moore's.
"You can't just read an article and say you know what's going on," Davis said. "You have to learn these environments. If you're not doing something, you're part of the problem."
Corey Beulah, 33, walked by not long after the press conference ended and the small crowd dispersed. Beulah grew up in the area, he said, then left Delaware for 11 years and moved back about five years ago. He was in the juvenile justice system for drug trafficking, he said, but he straightened his life out to concentrate on raising his two children. He works now for a waste management company.
"All of these kids out here -- they're raising themselves," Beulah said. "I see 13- and 14-year-old girls talking with grown men. You get tired of being on the street all the time."
But Beulah doubts any real change can happen.
"To tell you the truth, I don't know who the governor is now," he said. "But I think everybody is just worried about theirself. It doesn't get no better."