‘An internal battle’: After two multi-fatal shootings, East Allegheny is reviewing past trauma and pushing for solutions

Lynn Glorieux sweeps up trash around Allegheny Commons on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in East Allegheny. Since moving to East Allegheny 30 years ago, she takes to the sidewalks surrounding the park for this daily practice. Behind her, the encampment along Stockton Avenue, across from where she tends to the Allegheny Commons Community Gardens. The encampment was later cleared by the city. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

Tucked beside I-279, East Allegheny is not a hub for gun violence, but it’s become the site of several of the city’s deadliest shootings. Why?

by Amelia Winger, PublicSource

When Lynn Glorieux moved to East Allegheny in 1992, the narrow alley adjacent to her Lockhart Street apartment was a sea of trash, cresting at her knees. 

She didn’t hesitate to reach for her broom and dustpan. A lesson from her mother — a Girl Scout leader and stickler for cleanliness — rang in her ears, just as clearly as the day it was passed down in the 1950s. 

“She would always say we should at least pick up the aluminum foil because that never decomposes,” Glorieux said. “That was before plastic, when I was little, you know.”

Thirty years later, Glorieux still sweeps that alley every week as part of her neighborhood cleaning circuit — with help from her “litter pick-up sisters.” 

It’s her way of connecting with her community. Before her eyes, residents have come together over the decades to revitalize East Allegheny. The parking lots on Cedar Avenue became apartment complexes; the dilapidated storefronts along East Ohio Street became revamped businesses; the empty houses surrounding hers became family homes.

Yet every time Glorieux empties stamp bags and broken guns from her dustpan, she’s forced to confront the neighborhood’s duality and the cycle of violence imbued in its history. There were five victims of homicide in East Allegheny this year, including an April shooting, where gunfire at an Airbnb killed two teens and wounded eight others during a crowded party, and an October shooting, where gunfire in front of a gas station left three dead and another wounded. Police have charged three men in connection with the October shooting, but have yet to make an arrest for the April shooting. 

An orange strip of street lamp light runs down Middle Street to its intersection with the business district of East Ohio Street in East Allegheny. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

“This problem didn’t arrive yesterday,” said Mayor Ed Gainey during a press conference about citywide gun violence on Dec. 2. “We’re not going to solve it tomorrow, but we will solve it in the future.”

Gun violence stems from more than a merciless politics of retaliation. Research shows that the root causes of shootings are historical factors and inequalities forged through decades of failed promises, persistent disinvestment and fragmentation within communities. In East Allegheny, these gnarled roots extend back to at least the 1960s, when urban renewal projects — including the construction of the Allegheny Center Mall and Interstate 279 — inflicted socioeconomic scars that have yet to fully heal. As residents band together to promote solutions and resilience, they’re urging the Gainey administration, City Council and police to help them address the historical skeletons that continue to perpetuate the gun violence crisis in their neighborhood today.  
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