We are responsible for stopping violence in the community
By Eric D. Hackley
Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of an interview writer, journalist and researcher Eric Hackley conducted with community activist Denise Trigg who is working to raise aware about and cure the violence that is plaguing our community—violence that took her son last year.
The following is Ms. Trigg’s story in her own words:
“I’ve been asked several times since the death of my son last year in March about what we can do as parents to stop some of the violence. One of the biggest issues that I find and that I’m dealing with myself as a parent is, we need to take back our community. It’s not up to the police, it’s not up to the churches and it’s not up to the city councilmen. It’s up to each parent to take back your neighborhood and to involve other parents.
“We tend to close a blind eye on this issue and I’ve ruffled a couple of feathers. But, I know as far as with my son and the other children that I’ve dealt with, that a lot of times we turn our head once they get a certain age. We think he or she knows better. They never know enough. Because in growing up, I’m in that age group where even as a grown person, I was still my mother’s child. There were still things that I was obligated to do in front of her that she had better not catch me doing somewhere else because that’s just the way she was.
I’m speaking on this because, like I said, I’m not perfect. Right now I’m putting myself out here to be transparent. I’ve already been attacked by the media and I’ve been attacked by politicians. And, my daughters have been verbally attacked at their jobs, all saying that I should not be on TV, that I’m not professional. My whole thing is, when does it stop? When do we as a black community say we need to take back our streets?
“I have met so many parents that are scared to come outside, scared to ask their children what they’re doing. They really don’t want to know and that is why I’m speaking on it because, it has to stop! It affected me when people were out there dying. But, it really hit hard as to what role I was to play in this community when I lost my son. I realized that I had to take responsibility. Since his death, I have become a very big advocate of promoting the community to pick up the pieces. Stop waiting for the agencies, stop waiting for the police to come and knock on your door and tell you something. Go find where your child is!
“Start being concerned because my age group has to look at it this way. In a minute, we’re going to be retiring. With these kids are out here gunning down each other, who’s going to be there to take care of us? When we go to nursing homes or retirement homes, everybody needs somebody. If they’re all dead, who is going to do it? Not only that, who’s going to take care of their kids they’re leaving out here? I have a four-year-old granddaughter. Everyday, I have to explain to her that your daddy is in heaven.
“That’s not something that a four-year-old should even have to deal with. She shouldn’t even have to know about that. She can know that there is a heaven and hell, but she shouldn’t have to understand why she had to give her daddy to heaven but she still gets to be here and see her mommy, grandmother, aunts and cousins cry. I’m asking every parent, I’m challenging every parent, I dare you to step out of your house and speak out in your community.
“I’m re-opening the Eagle’s Nest and I have my program coordinator Frances Gardner here and I also have two gentlemen here, Elijah the Prophet and Prophet Marcus. They will be helping us with our music program. They promote clean rap music. I have no problem with rap music, but I will not promote it anymore if all you talk about is ‘behind-shaking, popping the pill or gunning down anybody’s child.’ Because at the end of the day not only did I lose my child, but the young man who killed my son, his parents will lose him when he goes to prison. So it’s death either way—both aspects are death.
“My heart goes out to his parents because like I said before and I’ll say it again, I forgive them. I forgive those young boys because what our society is teaching our kids about what loyalty is, that’s not really what loyalty is. Loyalty in not being friends with somebody because today you and him have on the same type of shoes but, tomorrow, you’re mad at him because he’s talking to a girl that you like and you’re ready to shoot him. Where is the loyalty in that?
“And, we keep talking about snitching. It is not snitching if you are in trouble or you see someone else in trouble and you ask for help, how is that snitching? I know a young man who just got out of prison who was sentenced to 10 years. He didn’t snitch, he held his tongue but now he’s regretting it because he paying for it. His child doesn’t know him and has no idea who he is. The child calls someone else daddy. That’s the price he paid for saying he wouldn’t snitch.
“I’m being honest. I’m challenging teenagers. I’m challenging little kids, grandmothers and I’m challenging the churches. I ask the churches, where are you? Where is my church? Any of the churches? I don’t have to be a member to be a Christian. I feel like it is wrong the way the churches have done this past year. There were churches who denied kids to have funerals there because they thought that they were gang affiliated. I think that’s terrible because Christians don’t do Christians like that. And if you are a Christian, those are the ones you need to be reaching out to.
“I’ll say again and I’m challenging all of Fort Wayne and the South Side to step out of your boundaries and start acting like it’s your business. Because if a child gets gunned down on your steps, it’s your business. Whether it’s your child, my child or anyone else’s child, you should know what’s going on in your neighborhood. You shouldn’t have to feel like, ‘I have to hurry up and get out of the car and get in the house.’ Let’s take our neighborhood back.
“I’m promoting a walk next week called the Hope Walk.” We’re going to start at the place of last year’s first homicide and we’re going to walk that street beginning at 3 p.m. Between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., we have found that’s the time most rapes, homicides, teen pregnancies and drug use occur. If anyone is interested you can contact me, Denise Trigg at (260) 418-7650.
“I’m asking you if you’re tired, to come out and stand up!”
Ms. Trigg’s interview can be see in its entirety on HackonomicsTV on youtube. More details about the WALK will be posted on Facebook.