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Somali Bantu parents call for end to youth violence, form group to make neighborhoods safer

FOX 28 Columbus
Friday October 20, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — A group of fathers in the Somali Bantu community say they worry about their children every day, with youth gun violence impacting their families and neighborhoods.

“Parents are really in pain,” said Yukub Mohamed, Vice President of the Somali Bantu Community in Columbus. “We’re hurting.”

Mohamed said their community has lost too many young people to gun violence and drugs. They mostly live in west Columbus in Wedgewood and the Hilltop, some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

According to the Columbus Division of Police, as of October 16, in 2023, they’ve investigated six homicides and 157 felony assaults in the Hilltop and Wedgewood areas.

“Every time, we cannot lose a young kid that had a future,” said Mohamed. “The parents need the youth for their help, not to take them to the cemetery and bury them.”

They said they moved to Columbus for better lives, not for their kids to lose their lives.

“They are the future,” said Jafar Abdi. “The main reason we came to United States, them to get safe and to get an education, better education, all that, which we didn’t have this opportunity. So they are the ones who deserve this opportunity, and they are the ones killing each other.”

Abdi is now without his 15-year-old son. Jafar Shalid died on September 28 after being shot in west Columbus.

“He was nice guy,” said Abdi. “He used to pray on time. He was a soccer player, and he used to help us a lot. But he was not into gun violence.”

The fathers said they cannot continue to lose more young people.

“We lose a lot of kids within a year at maybe the age of 18, 19, 20, and then it keeps going on,” said another member of the Somali Bantu community. “Nothing is stopping.”

The group has started to organize mediation sessions with groups of young people, finding a way to solve issues without turning to guns.

“Instead of taking the life of somebody, if you have something with him, please come tell us. We can talk,” said Mohamed. “We can negotiate about the issue instead of taking somebody’s life.”

They’re also calling on police, city leaders, state leaders, and community groups to join forces with them.

“We really want to raise our kids in a good, safe environment, in a good community where we can raise our kids,” said Mohamed. “But this has an impact on us right now.”

Mohamed can be reached by emailing unitedbantu23@gmail.com.

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