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Greater Allegheny to host panel discussion on urban violence

4/8/2009 —

After losing a student to violence last August on the streets in Pittsburgh, an increased level of awareness of urban violence prompted faculty and staff at Penn State Greater Allegheny to take action. They decided to bring experts on the issue to the campus and create an open forum for discussion.

First, esteemed ethnographer and expert on urban inequality, Elijah Anderson, the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale, spoke on campus to a standing room only crowd. The title of his lecture was “Why are so many young black men killing each other.” His thesis after extensive research with young Philadelphia neighborhood residents supports that “entrenched poverty, experience with racial discrimination, and chronic exclusion from gainful employment largely account for the vicious cycle of brutality and aggression that dominates many urban streets.”

As a follow-up to Anderson’s lecture, a panel was formed to offer local perspectives on urban violence. The following individuals will participate in the panel discussion Tuesday, April 14 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Robert and Elizabeth Ostermayer Room, Student Community Center:

Bomani Howze, Heinz Foundation
Richard Garland, One Vision One Life
Anthony Mitchell, Penn State Greater Allegheny
Husani Thompson, Penn State Greater Allegheny student

Bomani Howze was born and raised in Pittsburgh's historic Hill District and has experienced youth violence first-hand for most of his childhood. In 2005, he lost his best friend and younger brother Patrice Howze to gun violence. Howze has since been on a mission to help provide alternative paths to a street life. He is now a program officer for the Heinz Endowments Innovation Economy program, a grant-making program dedicated to capitalizing on the research strengths of the region’s energy resources, universities, medical centers, corporate, and grass roots economic development organizations to promote economic growth and opportunity.

Richard Garland is director of the Violence Prevention Program for Allegheny County; and under that position he developed the “One Vision One Life” Project. One Vision One Life--originally known as The Allegheny County Violence Prevention Initiative--directly challenges skepticism with the simple but powerful notion that there is a way to prevent the next homicide. The goal of One Vision One Life is to prevent violence. The initiative is strategic, narrow, and directly focused on preventing homicide now.

Dr. Anthony Mitchell is a university community programs administrator in Continuing Education at Penn State Greater Allegheny. In this capacity, he provides outreach programs and services to K-12 schools and communities. Since the early 1990s, he has worked with numerous Western Pennsylvania organizations and community-based groups that provide outreach to African American males including the Juvenile Court of Allegheny County, The Gang Peace Council of Western Pa., the Community Intensive Supervision Program, and Community Empowerment Association. He is currently involved in the Heinz Endowments' supported African American Leadership Institute which aims to provide intensive mentoring to African American males in the City of Pittsburgh. In 2007, he lost a nephew to violence.

Husani Thompson is from Pittsburgh and is pursuing a degree in communications at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

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