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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – In just the four months of 2014, Cedar Rapids has already seen more than double the average number of homicides per year. That has community leaders working to get the people who live nearby to come together to stop the violence.
Local organizers say a string of shootings and other violent attacks have prompted parents to keep their kids away from places like Redmond Park.
Today, the neighborhood decided to take the park back, even if just for the afternoon.
The picture that Jimaine Cooper wears on his shirt is of his brother. It’s the first clue that Jimaine’s life hasn’t been easy.
“I was born on the south side of Chicago, gang-banger, did everything, all the above, sold drugs, did that, and it didn’t work,” said Cooper.
That’s why he says he’s taking a break from making music to create a different kind of harmony in Cedar Rapids.
“I felt like other than me trying to go out here and be evil against the police, or who this and that, I’d just turn it into a positive and help everybody else with it,” said Cooper.
The people he’s especially trying to reach are the ones that are only waist-high, like Shyanthony Givens.
He lives just a few blocks from the double-homicide earlier this month.
“It scares me a lot because I never know when it could happen to someone really, really close to me,” said Givens as he sat on the ladder of playground equipment. He’s 14-years old.
Cooper says positive adult influences early on can change the rest of a child’s life.
He adds that the opposite is also true.
“Without your father being there, then it’s the streets that your son calls one because all your friends are out here,” said Cooper.
“That’s where we come in at,” said Community Leader Francis Cothiere. “That’s where we come in to help, that’s where we come in to fill in that gap.”
With that gap filled, who knows what possible?
One day, Givens hopes some future residents in Cedar Rapids can say they work for the kid who grew up just a few blocks away from tragedy.
“I don’t know what type of business yet, but I just want to be in charge,” said Givens.