Thumbnail image for this story (this will show up on the stories page of the site):
Relevant issues for this story, separated by commas (eg. war, race, gender):
Poverty, Health
Geographical region for this story (eg. Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia):
North America
Relevant key words for this story, separated by commas (eg. Africa, Hurricane Katrina, Mother Teresa):
Gun Crisis, US, New Jersey, Crime
A short summary for this story that will go on the stories page (1-2 sentences):
Camden, NJ, is one of most dangerous cities in America. Last year, the city reached a record number of murders in 2012, with 67 victims, giving the city the highest murder rate in the country. This project will document the violence, and the physical and emotional toll placed on families living in the area.
Andrew Renneisen

2013 — student award of excellence

Imagine a year in New York City, where the victims of homicide numbered 7,015. More deaths than double the amount of people killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Imagine a city marred by gruesome killings including the decapitation of a toddler, and the brutal stabbing of a 6-year-old boy in his sleep. Imagine a city with a rampant drug trade and 40 percent of residents living below the poverty line.

This “imaginary” city actually exists in the United States, and is only 100 miles from New York City. Camden, NJ, a city of 77,000, has often been regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in America. Last year, the city reached a record number of murders in 2012, with 67 victims, giving the city the highest murder rate in the country.

The city continues to live in constant strife, with a dwindling police force of 273 officers. Many have acknowledged to all but ceding to the drug trade on the city’s streets. The current city police force will soon be replaced by a larger county force to cut the city’s cost, and the consequences of the replacement are soon to be found.

"The [current] status quo means that the people in our city are being shot and murdered at Third World country rates," said police chief Scott Thomson, in a story published by NPR last December.
With such violent and tumultuous times, my project will focus on the daily struggle to live in a city surrounded by such significant amounts of violence, and the physical and emotional toll placed on families living in the area. It will also look for the effects caused by a new police force in the city, and the changes, if any, that occur in the fundamental causes of violence in the city.

This project would continue a story I’ve been working on entitled “Violent Times.” For the past two years, I have been photographing crime, violence, and poverty near where I have lived or worked, specifically in Wilmington, DE, and Atlantic City, NJ. The pictures in my story display the effects of violent culture, and are attempt to show reactions and consequences to violent conflict in my area. With the help of the Alexia Foundation, I would like to dig deeper and show the fundamental causes of social injustice stemming from daily life in cities such as Camden, NJ. I would also like to photograph things being done to create change, not only photographing despair and darkness, but also hope in a community surrounded in conflict.

Read more
Family members weep as the casket of Alexander Kamara is lowered into the ground on Saturday, July 21, 2012.  Kamara was a promising student and soccer player who was killed after being caught in the crossfire of a shooting that took place on a soccer field in Wilmington. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
A boy walks by a wall of crosses that symbolize the number of homicides Camden experienced in 2012. On Jasper Street, 67 are seen. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
A young boy plays in his yard in the Fairview neighborhood of Camden.  Camden was ranked in United States most dangerous city last year, according to the FBI.  The city of 77,250 people ranked more violent than cities such as Flint, Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, and Oakland, California. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
The new Camden County Police Force practices a mobilization drill in North Camden, one of the most dangerous parts of the city. The county force replaced the Camden city force last year, with a new emphasis of putting more foot patrols on the street. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
Jorge Categena, 11, was hit by a stray bullet two years ago on his way to a corner store in Camden.   He is missing one eye and is blind in the other.  Jorge is one of the many youth living in Camden affected by violence at an early age. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
Ron Ron kisses his girlfriend Daija on the night of the baby shower for their second son. Ron Ron has been working on the streets on Camden's North Side since he was 13-years-old to provide for his family. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
Ron Ron, a resident in the Fairview neighborhood of Camden, shows off his tattoo. His hand reads "CMD" which stands for "Camden's Most Dangerous". "You got to rep where you are from," said Ron Ron. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
The body of Zach "Zooty Bang" Taylor is mourned by friends and family members at a funeral home in Mays Landing, NJ.  Taylor was 19 years old when he was shot to death in Atlantic City's Westside, making him the city's ninth victim of homicide in 2012. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
Family members of Alex Kamara mourn at his funeral on Saturday, July 21, 2012.  Kamara, a promising student and soccer player was killed after being caught in the crossfire of a shooting that took place on a soccer field in Wilmington. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation
A young boy holds the hand of his father outside the funeral for 16-year-old Alexander Kamara. Kamara, a promising student and soccer player was killed after being caught in the crossfire of a shooting that took place on a soccer field in Wilmington. Andrew Renneisen/Alexia Foundation