Institute to study black-on-black crime

Arkansas Baptist College has dedicated the Derek Olivier Research Institute, honoring a slain student by seeking solutions to the epidemic of black-on-black violence in the United States.

By Bob Allen

Arkansas Baptist College honored the memory of a student murdered last year by dedicating a new research center March 1 bearing his name to address the problem of black-on-black violence in America’s cities.

The new Derek Olivier Research Institute (DORI) will collect, analyze and track data trends of black-on-black violence and recommend best practices and potential solutions for the prevention of violent behavior detrimental to community safety, according to a news release.

“We want to bring these senseless acts of violence to attention and get out and do something about it,” Arkansas Baptist College President Fitz Hill told Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV. “Not just talk about it, write about it, rap about it, but to do something about it. That's what this institute will be about."

derek olivierOlivier, a 19-year-old freshman and member of the Arkansas Baptist College football team, suffered a fatal gunshot wound on Sept. 27, 2012, while helping a fellow student change a flat tire. His murder is still unsolved, and police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer.

The dedication ceremony concluded with a candlelight vigil at the corner of 16th and Bishop streets, the site of the murder. College officials said the intent is not to memorialize Olivier as a victim, but for his memory to serve as a testimony to the community and nation.

School officials say the time has come to shine a light on the epidemic of black-on-black violence, the No. 1 cause of death for black men ages 18-35. The new institute sets out to create a national model for cooperation among students, community leaders, clergy and city and state governments to create community-based solutions for reducing such crimes.

After Olivier’s murder, Hill, a former collegiate football coach who took over as president of the only historically black college west of the Mississippi in 2006, immediately set out to meet with churches and community associations to find ways to tackle the problem of violence in urban America.

“Black-on-black crime must be addressed and must be addressed within the community itself,” Hill told media the day after the shooting “That was senseless, just to do that and to take the life of somebody.”

Along with revitalizing the once-struggling school founded in 1884 as an institute for black ministers, Hill’s administration has invested heavily in neighborhood projects to improve safety, remove blight, attract partners and reclaim the school’s historic role as an anchor in the community.

Beginning with a $100,000 renovation of that property, renamed from Wheels and Grills to Auto Baptism, Arkansas Baptist College went on to purchase numerous buildings and lots to demolish, renovate or repurpose.

Tenants include the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas, which moved from an office complex into a renovated 1890s Queen Anne cottage adjacent to the Arkansas Baptist College campus in 2008. Olivier’s shooting took place on the street behind the CBF headquarters at the opposite end of the block.

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