KMOV-Belleville must address "black on black" crime if it wants to put a stop to violence in the community, the city's police chief said Wednesday.
William Clay III said more and more African-Americans are dying in the hands of African-Americans. He cited two recent homicides in Belleville.
Clay was among those in attendance at a public forum at Belleville City Hall. Residents gathered to discuss efforts to combat violence.
The father of a 15-year-old boy shot and killed Sunday also spoke at the meeting. Harrison Griffin said the justice system needs to to a better job of keeping offenders behind bars.
Clay cited national statistics indicated a sharp increase in African-American crime. He said this type of violence is "cancerous" and creates a rift between the races.
"Blacks will talk to blacks about this. They'll talk to blacks. But they won't talk to whites. Whites will talk to whites about that. But whites and blacks won't talk about it. So we stay divided," he said.
But some residents say the subject of race should not be the only matter of discussion.
"My concern is crime in general. Whether it be white on black crime. White on white crime. White on black crime. Hispanic on black crime. Crime is crime is crime," Leslie Ellerbrook, a Belleville resident, said.
Ellerbrook helped launched www.bellevillecrimestoppers.com, a crime prevention website. She said the site is a step forward to beginning a community dialogue.
Some residents said anonymous tip lines would make neighbors more comfortable about reporting crimes. Others suggested a mandatory curfew in Belleville.