Community leaders to young men: crime is not your only option

Community leaders to young men: crime is not your only option
Walter Umrani wants to let young men know that they have other options besides committing crime to make a living. He offers help to those without the resources who may also have minor warrants. (Source: {WBRC})

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Two men are setting out to help young men who think crime is the answer to their problems. This, after the C&C Beauty Supply was robbed at gunpoint last week.

The men we spoke with today say one of the main things that keeps young men from getting gainful employment is the fact that they have a record. They’re telling us they can help with that.

Last Thursday, two men - masked and armed - ran into C&C Beauty Supply. They engage in gunfire with the store owner and then run off. Clarence Muhammad and Walter Umrani - both with local grassroots organizations - believe they can change the lives of these young men and others like them.

“We’re dealing with the impact of social needs that have not been met. We don’t believe more guns, more jails, and more police can really solve this problem,” says Umrani.

Talking to young men in urban neighborhoods who might turn to crime, letting them know they have options - even if they have warrants for their arrest.

“Most of the warrants are for frivolous, minor things. But they’re afraid to come in. And we have friends in the court system that if we bring the young men in and they make a position that they are trying to improve their lives, they will reset the court dates for them, pull the warrant off - they still have to account for what happened, you understand, but I can pull the warrant the judge said,” says Umrani.

They say many choose crime when they think they have no other choice, or no other person rooting for them helping them make the right choices.

“And we have to bring the resources, the love first. Let them know that we really care about them,” says Umrani.

And those in the community agree.

“You got a lot of people that didn’t finish school, don’t know how to go and get a GED, don’t have anybody teaching them skills, they feel like everybody is coming down on them. So they just need somebody else, just a little bit of support," says Loraine Holley, who lives in Titusville.

They say their main problem is trust. These young men don’t believe that they can be given a second chance by a judge, but Umrani believes if they can build that trust, they’ll have more success stories and less crime.

Copyright 2019 WBRC. All rights reserved.