Oak Cliff Residents Vow to Break Cycle of Violence in South Dallas

Dallas city leaders will receive the latest crime statistics as members of an Oak Cliff neighborhood look for ways to find change.

According to the latest FBI report, sexual assaults are down 17 percent, but homicides are up 41 percent. Violent crime is a major concern for people living in the southern sector of Dallas.

Members of the Kessler Heights Neighborhood Association gather weekly to figure out ways to combat violence and build wealth in their community, near interstates 35W and 30. The Oak Cliff neighborhood is consumed by poverty, but residents continue to combat negative perceptions and strive for change.

"We love this area. We love Oak Cliff, and that is why we want to see the area change for the better," Pat Ford said. "We value the people who are here and who grew up here."

Ford, who grew up in Oak Cliff, retired from the medical field to go back to south Dallas and help families by founding the non-profit organization Dallas Community Fellowship Inc.

"We educate residents, we focus on outreach and meeting their needs," she said. "This community is really lacking resources."

Ford has met with all of the city council members, but she says her pleas for resources have fallen on deaf ears.

"When peoples lives are at stake, I can't play politics. When we lose our young men, we lose them two at a time," she said. "One to the grave and one to prison, and this is a constant. This is not just one day a week or a once a month. This is a constant. Our kids are immune to gunfire. They don't even run and hide anymore."

Members of the Kessler Heights Neighborhood Association believe the high crime is correlated with a lack of resources and city investment.

"There are good people that still live here, and it’s like we are prisoners in our own home," said Isreal Fininen.

"I don't understand why we don't deserve some of these same privileges as other neighborhoods, or some of these same opportunities. We don't want the city to give us anything. We are asking for investment. Invest in our neighborhoods. We can work it. We have the manpower, we have the capability," said LaTosha Witherspoon.

Residents see a lack of funding in education, housing, transportation, quality grocery stores and employment opportunities.

Ford and dozens of other residents continue to fight to restore and rebuild Oak Cliff. She has already started several after school programs, education programs for students and parents and healthy choice food programs. She is also working on a grant for summer school programs and funding for a multi-purpose center.

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