(Special thanks to Candace Montague for her reporting and Darrow Montgomery for his photography).
After his son, Kenny Barnes Jr. was shot and killed at his U Street Boutique in Northwest DC, Barnes Sr took his formal education in Psychology to use by trying to put an end to gun violence. He felt that the way to find the solution was to “Reach Out to Others Together” in order to find the ROOT Causes of the problem. Of the things he discovered on his 16 years journey into activism is that uplifting the local community and empowering stakeholders to feel a sense of cooperation, justice, and fairness, is essential in maintaining the health of the public. His past as led him to his definition of the present, that there is clearly a path to peace in the streets and in our schools, and it comes from the same warmth of unity that intrinsically binds us all.
Currently, Mr. Barnes and myself are working with The Collaborative to Improve Youth/Police Relations Through Prevention Science, a project combining one of the top public health research institutions in George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and one of the largest professional law enforcement groups in National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to study the interactions between police and youth. This research has a chance to clarify the problem of inner-city violence in the context of the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This represents Kenny Barnes Sr. current state of action, with the focal point of the study being Wards 7 and 8, where 65% of the homicides in Washington DC occurred in the last year, 2018.
In the future, the Mr. Barnes and I would like to expand the project into the other Wards (and other cities) and find ways of communicating the central message of getting to the ROOT Causes of the scourge of violence that has risen in major east coast cities since 2015. We hope this future will see serious progress in the realm of instituting a public health model to combat gun violence, as it has worked well in cities like Chicago and Glasgow. When people worked together to solve problems, we all win!