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Maybe, just maybe we all should hope for below-zero temperatures for good.

As 2017 came to a close, many parts of the country, including Pittsburgh, were relegated to our homes due to the frigid, freezing, bone-chilling temperatures outside. Many of you may not have gone out on New Year’s Eve, as ABC Television enjoyed record viewership numbers for its annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show from New York City.

The bitter cold lasted seemingly another eight days. Nobody was out if they didn’t have to be.

Then Jan. 9 came: with it came relatively much warmer temperatures, and unfortunately, the shooting and killing of another Black man in Pittsburgh.

Diron Lamonn Hopwood, 25, was shot and killed in Homewood, around N. Murtland Ave. at Upland St. It happened in the middle of the day, near Westinghouse High School, as students were in class. A school lockdown ensued.

Over the next three weeks, 10 more homicides were recorded in Allegheny County—six of them were Black males.

Several years ago, the New Pittsburgh Courier began publicly showing the number of homicides in Allegheny County on its front page. Out of that total, we showed the number of Black lives that were lost. In our Jan. 3, 2018 edition, the Courier reported that 78 out of 110 homicides in the county were Black lives.

As the newspaper of record for African Americans in Pittsburgh and this region, the New Pittsburgh Courier denounces the gun violence that is so negatively impacting our communities.

We place the homicide numbers on our front page each month, including this edition, to bring this devastating issue to the forefront of our readers and our community. This is not an issue that can be ignored. This is not an issue that can go on page 2. This is real, this is happening in our backyards, this is affecting our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, nieces, nephews, sons, daughters…it’s paralyzing us, period.

One thing we do know about Pittsburgh, though, is that there are many people and organizations that are tirelessly working to improve our communities. From Rashad Byrdsong, to Tim Stevens, to the hundreds of teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools and local charter schools…from local pastors and church congregations, to community groups in Beltzhoover, the Hill District, Homewood, the North Side, and Sheraden, to elected officials, to those like Flo Taylor and the MAD DADS…the Courier publicly commends you for your work, and we will continue to spotlight everyone who is making a positive contribution to our community.

It’s always said that in the summer months, when the weather is warmer, gun violence escalates. And in colder temperatures, there is less gun violence. Well, as the month of January just showed us, if 11 homicides is “less gun violence,” then that is unacceptable.

But, we also saw the first eight days of the year with NO gun violence. Who knows if it was due to those below-zero temperatures? It doesn’t matter “why” there was no gun violence. But it did show us that we CAN have a city without OUR people getting murdered. It IS possible. And we must KNOW that it is possible, so that one day, it CAN be ACHIEVED.



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