Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kalamazoo Faces Gun Violence, COVID-19

City of Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo City commissioners are hoping to reduce gun violence in the city. So far, 14 people have died because of shootings in the city in 2020.

Commissioners have agreed to spend $100,000 to address the problem. City Commissioner Jeanne Hess says, "I can think of no other issue that is more important than addressing the cause and effects of gun violence in this community. It affects everyone."

Vice-Mayor Patrese Griffin demanded that the Commission take action because of shootings on her own street.

"Gun violence is, unfortunately, not new. But it has impacted this community in ways that, for many of us who have lived here all our lives and even folks who have visited, we've never seen anything like this before."

The money approved for 2020 will fix bullet holes in homes and counsel victims, among other things. It will also pay for surveillance cameras in some areas. City commissioners say even more money will be set aside in next year's budget.

The Pandemic Hits Home

COVID-19 has claimed the life of a Kalamazoo icon and is threatening the life of another.

The virus reportedly contributed to the recent death of long-time Kalamazoo middle school principal Dorothy Young. And Mayor Dave Anderson was emotional after learning that former mayor Bobby Hopewell’s mother is in the hospital with the disease.

"As soon as I heard the news tonight my heart dropped, and I am asking for all of us and for the community to pray for Maggie Bodley. She's over at Borgess Hospital right now."

Anderson made the announcement at the City Commission's meeting on December 7. Magnolia Bodley was a community activist long before her son's election. She's reportedly in stable condition.

City Commissioner Chris Praedel says the pandemic has gotten much worse since the state issued its first COVID orders in March.

"In that first seven days, there were ten confirmed cases in Kalamazoo County. To put it into perspective, in the first week of December alone in Kalamazoo County there've been 656 confirmed cases."

Commissioners say people should do everything they can to avoid spreading or catching the corona virus. If they don't, commissioners say more lives will be lost.

Some Kalamazoo City commissioners say state lawmakers aren't doing enough. City Commissioner Erin Knott says majority Republicans at the State Capitol need to approve Governor Gretchen Whitmer's new economic relief package.

"A package she wants to implement by the end of the year, including $100 million for economic support. And, the legislature has not lifted a finger to work with her."

But GOP leaders have accused the Democratic governor of not working with them before closing bars, restaurants, and other businesses.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.