Stop Trauma on People (S.T.O.P), an anti-violence community group, planted 700 crosses and other symbols Tuesday in front of Camden City Hall to represent the people who have been killed between 1995 and 2012, two record-breaking years for murders in the city.
Just last year, Camden recorded 67 homicides, its most ever. It was a 20 person increase from 2011, which just recently gave Camden the title of highest crime rate in the country, also known as the "Most Dangerous" city title.
Based on STOP's calculations of annual homicide numbers, 708 people have been killed since 1995, said one of the STOP leaders Fr. Jeff Putthoff.
The group obtained a permit from the city to cover the entire front lawn of City Hall with the grim reminder that Camden is the most dangerous and poorest city in the country (see my post from yesterday.) On Monday, the group met with Mayor Dana L. Redd who was supportive of the group's plan to host a trauma summit in Camden.
"Since 1995, we seem to be focused on public safety being the answer," Putthoff said, adding that poverty and the trauma it causes on people needs to be addressed.
"We are not recognizing what poverty does to people," he said.
Camden was also named the nation's poorest city last year.