NAACP president speaks out on recent crime trends involving African Americans

DAYTON — In many Dayton neighborhoods, there has always been concerns about the interactions between police and young black males, but there are many signs that there is a growing concern about a rising tide of violence overall.

The overwhelming grief, anger and frustration about violent and senseless deaths in Dayton is rising.

Dr. Derrick Foward, President of the Dayton Chapter of the NAACP, spoke at a news conference, flanked by a mother and a wife who are mourning the loss of Brandon Cooper, the 35-year-old Lyft driver who was shot and killed during an attempted carjacking while on the job.

The teens arrested and accused of killing Cooper are also African American.

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“Law enforcement, citizen, if you are wrong, you’re wrong,” Foward said.

He said the NAACP is not about to stop fighting for civil rights of African Americans involved in any potential incidents, and those abused or killed by police. However, all four homicide victims in the city have been African American and so are all six people arrested and accused of involvement in those crimes. That statistic was concerning to Foward.

“That’s 10 more African Americans out of their families’ lives,” Foward said.

News Center 7 requested the numbers and demographic information about homicides in Dayton from the Dayton Police Department. The information confirmed the trend Foward pointed out.

In 2021, there were 32 homicide victims and 23 of them were African American. Nineteen of the 24 arrests made in those cases were African Americans.

“When I think of 32 homicides in 2021 and 23 of them are African American, that makes my heart ache,” Foward said.

Community leaders have pointed out that sometimes these types of statistics lead to minority neighborhoods receiving increased police patrols, but no increase in development funding.

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Derek Williams, of Dayton, said he sees a lot of vacant eyesores and lack of new investment when he walks back and forth to the store from his home near N. Main Street.

“It looks crummy now, like someone just [doesn’t] care. You walk up and down, you want to see nice houses,” Williams said.

The city of Dayton has pledged to spend $15 million of federal funding in the next three years to demolish nuisance buildings across all city neighborhoods.

Foward is also pushing for more economic development spending in minority communities, but he emphasized that keeping families intact and keeping young people alive is top priority.

“If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right, you’re right,” Foward said. “We’re going to hold whoever accountable.”