The keg has exploded in Trenton.
A wave of violence has hit the capital city like never before as more than 120 shootings have been reported in just the first six months of this year, according to statistics released by the Trenton Police Department last week. Add to the mix two violent weeks in and around the city that left at least two people dead—including a high school senior and a 24-year-old man—and the city of Trenton remains a city under siege.
Last week, 17-year-old high school senior Shakir Williams was gunned down at a house party in neighboring Hamilton. Four other people inside of the house were injured. On Saturday, two people were shot, with one man later dying. Some city officials, including embattled and corruption-plagued Mayor Tony Mack, blame the violence on the lack of police officers. In September 2011, more than 100 city officers were laid off due to budgetary issues. However, others in the city contend the wave of violence extends far deeper than fewer police officers.
Mack is currently awaiting trail to face a litany of federal corruption charges.
“Our young people need positive outlets and something better to do than just roam the streets,” said John Harmon, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. Harmon, a lifelong resident of the city, said he has seen Trenton plummet into disarray and uncertainty under the current scandal-scarred administration. Harmon advocates entrepreneurship, supporting minority-owned businesses and community activism as viable ways to curve an out of control violence spree. “By providing the tools for young people to learn a trade and start a business, it will give them something upbeat and positive to look forward to,” he said.
In 2011, there were 23 homicides in Trenton and the city is on track to either match or top that figure this year. The city also remains on the list of the 100 most dangerous cities in the U.S.