Oren D’Lonte Anderson was only 22 when he died from gunfire in South Jackson in late 2020 during a December spike of both COVID-19 and homicides in Mississippi’s capital city. His mother Shannon Anderson believed he was on the path to succeeding in life although he suffered from an under-treated mental illness. Photo courtesy Shannon Anderson

Violence Solutions Not Easy, But Collaboration Works

Young people have been heavy on my mind. Our most recent solutions circle on Feb. 15 discussed the uptick in violence around the country and our state, particularly in Hinds County. Most of you have caught on that our writers look profoundly at our present circumstances grounded in historical context, bringing both together for solutions-based reporting. Our solutions circles—nine so far since the MFP and pandemic launched—are a vital part of the process, allowing the community to guide and enrich our reporting.

You are welcome to join or make suggestions for our second “Beyond Policing: A Conversation about Violence Solutions in Mississippi” on Tuesday, March 1, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. central. Register now at mfp.ms/circles or email [email protected] to send ideas or get on the circles mailing lists for future ones on violence and other topics.

We do these circles in conjunction with the state’s oldest Black newspaper, the Jackson Advocate. As with all of our gatherings, we focused in the first violence circle last week on what a community-wide system of solutions might look like, offering a creative-thinking and problem-solving space and breakout sessions, drawing Mississippians from the Gulf Coast to the Delta. We talked about how we’ve failed our young folks, from underfunded public schools to how we’ve failed the families tasked with raising them, offering limited resources and safety nets for families who cannot physically work more hours. 

Violence Solution Circle part 2 Flyer info


It’s not just young people who commit violent acts or are victims of violent crimes, for that matter, though they are often our focus for blame and recrimination. Perhaps it is because that problem seems easier to fix, or perhaps young people are easy targets. Perhaps it is because it wounds us deeply when we lose a young person through violence or incarceration. It could be all of those, as well as the need to help redirect a child away from crime and violence before it’s too late.

As with any problem centered around young folks, most of us think there are one or two things to nip it in the bud or that parents aren’t doing enough, when many are trying very hard while working multiple jobs. Violence issues are complex, mired in years of intentional systemic attacks such as the looting of public schools both physically and monetarily at the onset of desegregation. There are solutions, just not easy ones. 

I’m always blown away by the creative ideas communities come up with when we come together to talk and not complain and finger-point. When communities face systemic challenges, it’s not because they’ve given up; it’s usually because we’ve given up on them. Our team isn’t giving up on Mississippi, and I hope you won’t, either, whether you live here or not. Because of people like you, we can tell truths others will not or cannot. You make this possible, whether it is by reading our stories, subscribing to this newsletter, supporting us financially or becoming an MFP VIP Club member.  

Everything counts when everything is on the line, and we are so glad to have you in this with us.  

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and factcheck information to [email protected] We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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