Over the weekend Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson, in a Facebook post, said that the violent surge is unacceptable and must stop.

Henderson, the police chief and the sheriff have a news conference scheduled Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. to talk about the violence.

WRBL News 3 reached out to two community leaders — businessman Rozell Buckner and pastor Adrian Chester — who mentor, work and minister in areas impacted by the violence. Chuck …

Buckner says the problems start with inadequate housing, educational issues, poverty and grows from there. He has spent his entire life on the southside of Columbus. He’s concerned as crime spikes and young men and women die.

“This may seem hard, but it’s the truth, slumlords have taken over our community,” Buckner said. “When you got people living in hog pins and dumps, they are going to act like they live in hog pins and dumps.”

Buckner has started a mentoring program, Turn Around Columbus, trying to reach elementary and middle school kids. Working with them on grades. A community farm is planned.

“We want to live in a decent community, too,” he said. “And these kids know that. They see that.”

Buckner says jobs are critical to stopping the violence.

“So these kids can have something to do and work, excepting of staying in the house all day, looking at these videos of gangs shooting each other, pushing the buttons and targets pop back up,” Buckner said. “They are not living a reality life. Once they shoot somebody. They don’t pop back up. They are dead. And they regret what they done.”

Chester is the pastor of Greater Beallwood Baptist Church and he’s young enough to know many of those who are caught in this brutal cycle of violence. And, he’s praying for it to stop.

“We are seeing the manifestation of a generation that does not value life,” Chester said. “And is trying to figure out how to operate in a space where the way of resolving whether it be conflict due to illegal activities or just gang culture that murder or killing is the only answer.” 

And this violence sometimes hits close to home. Earlier this month, Joseph Dukes was shot and killed. 29-year-old Deante Caruthers has been charged with murder.

“The person who was arrested was my quarterback in little league football,” Chester said. “We practically grew up in Eastway football. That’s the story, right.”

How do you stop it?

“This situation in which we are encountering in Columbus is not going to be solved in a press conference,” Chester said. “It is not going to be solved in a press release. But it’s going to be solved by going to the streets and gaining the trusts and building the relationships with those who have the real power in the streets.”

Chester says the time has come to get those gang leaders in a room.

“This thing is not going to be solved from the comforts of city hall, from the comforts of the community room of the police department,” Chester said. “It is going to be solved by pulling those people who have the real influence in the streets.”