Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has begun enacting drastic measures to fight crime.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported Thursday, Baraka said he is so desperate to curb the violence in Newark that he is going straight to the source – the criminals themselves.
It has been a violent year in Newark. In March, Velma Cuttino, 43, was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight as she sat in her car while stopped at an intersection.
In June, someone shot 16-year-old teenager Cheyanne Bond on a sidewalk for her iPhone. She was killed two weeks after she graduated high school.
And in August, store owner Jose Rivas was kidnapped as he opened his supermarket, and later shot to death.
On Thursday, Mayor Baraka invited criminals, gang members, and police to a church in Newark looking for ways to prevent such crimes. CBS 2’s Sloan was there exclusively.
During the meeting, dozens of police officers with high-powered weapons stood outside the Bethany Baptist Church, as Baraka sat inside meeting with those who have chosen a life of crime.
“We pick certain segments of the city in a neighborhood, and we talk to gang members, and we talk to people on parole, and we let them and help them understand that there’s alternatives for them. They can give up the lifestyle of committing crime,” said Newark police Director Eugene Venable.
Police officers did not go into the church during the meeting. It was all part of a deal in which the only security personnel allowed inside were members of the Nation of Islam.