07/15/08 — Walking not enough: Stopping drugs and crime requires real action

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Walking not enough: Stopping drugs and crime requires real action

This past weekend, a couple hundred people gathered in the Fairview housing area to take a stand against violence in their communities -- violence that is stealing the young lives of their children and making their neighborhoods unsafe.

They marched. They prayed. They listened to speeches. They joined hands and vowed that they would be part of a wave of those willing to make a difference.

And then they went home.

The neighborhood they left is no different. The drugs are still there as well as the violence and other crime.

And that is why marching is just not enough anymore. Saying you are taking a stand won't change anything, if there is no real follow-up.

The Stop the Funeral marches are a good first step. Getting people to unite in support of a movement to take back their neighborhoods is the way you start to make a change.

There has also been some programming done by the association of churches designed to get some criminals off the street and on a new path. That helps, too.

But if this community really wants to make a change, a march in a crime area on a Saturday morning is not enough. Take back the streets at night. Start a rally on Slocumb Street in the worst neighborhoods at a time when honest neighbors are alone with the thugs they deal with on a day-to-day basis. Let them know that their community leaders and neighbors are not afraid to stand with them -- that if they put down their feet and say 'no more' they won't be doing so alone.

The churches and other volunteers that have formed this alliance to address the violence and crime in this community should be commended for the time and strides they have already made. They have started the ball rolling.

But now it is time to develop an aggressive, consistent plan to reach children without role models, to push and support education and futures for the young people who are seeing their only choice as a life of crime or welfare and to stand with the honest citizens who are too afraid to battle crime in their communities alone.

We need programs and plans as well as rallies and prayers. We need a head-on discussions of the causes before we can really deal with the problems.

And we cannot leave it up to a handful of people to do the work -- not if we want to make a difference.

Published in Editorials on July 15, 2008 2:03 PM