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‘We need your help:’ City asks help fighting gun violence

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Birmingham mayor and police chief are asking the public for help after the city saw more than 100 homicides in 2020 with more than half of those remaining unsolved.

Mayor Randall Woodfin and Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith made the appeal in a news conference Wednesday. They asked for people to come forward with information about unsolved cases and the community’s assistance in helping young people understand ways to resolve conflict without picking up a gun.

In addition to coronavirus pandemic, the mayor said the city also had a crisis of gun violence in 2020. The mayor said the city had 105 homicides that were classified as murders this year, up from 93 in 2019.

“Our hearts go out to the families. But the truth is the families deserve more than our heart and prayers. They deserve justice,” Woodfin said.

The mayor said “detective after detective” say they believe they know who killed the victims, but they can’t make an arrest without witnesses being willing to talk.

Woodfin recalled his own brother’s murder in 2012 and how the killer was convicted only because a woman came forward. He recalled seeing the witness shaking as she testified at trial, but “through her fear, she pushed on for justice.”

“If she had not come forward to testify, my brother’s case would still be unsolved today,” Woodfin said.

While other types of crime are down on the city, there has been an increase in homicides, Smith said.

“We need your help. We need your voice. We need your action,” Smith said.

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