Citizen action needed to stem violence in our communities
The angry winds of violence that t hreaten many urban areas across the nation, including nearby Philadelphia, have buffeted with increasing frequency neighboring suburban communities with gunshot deaths being documented in Cheltenham, Abington and other townships.
And thank goodness some residents, community leaders, politicians, police and church leaders are beginning t o coalesce in order to curtail the senseless deaths through such programs as the “Bridging the Communities” forum that was moderated recently by the Rev. Miriam Burnett, pastor of New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Willow Grove.
Burnett, also a medical doctor and holding a master’s degree in public health, according to her online biography at www.newbethelwg.org, hosted the Aug. 13 program at the North Penn VFW Post 6T6 that featured the likes of Abington police Chief William Kell y, Upper Dublin Deputy Chief Lee Benson and Abington Township Commissioner Wayne Luker. The program was reportedly organized by the Bridging the Communities Coalition, incorporating groups from Crestmont and North Hills following a particularly violent episode.
According to the Times Chronicle article written by reporter Jarreau Freeman for the Aug. 16-22 issue, Luker was adamant about the July 1T shooting death of a Crestmont resident, William Butler, not “destroying” the community. A North Hills man has been charged with the shooting.
In fact, Luker and others have called for more community and recreational programs, but acknowledged the difficulties to funding initiatives during these tough economic times. Alternatively, as Luker insists, it is up to citizens to take action. I couldn’t agree with the commissioner more.
I’m absolutely convinced that in conjunction with community sporting programs and other activities, it’s imperative that youths and young adults are exposed to their ethnic history. For instance, many younger African Americans could explore their family roots and the accomplishments of past generations, situations that are still too rarely explored in our public, private and charter schools.
There’s no doubt in my mind that sometimes low selfesteem, based on the foolish messages that black youths receive from elements of the mass media, play a significant role in black-on-black crime. Yet, we just cannot exclusively blame the devilish phenomenon on the tube, as old-timers sometimes call television. To be blunt, many of the problems start right at home. Parents must take more responsibility, no matter what, in demanding academic excellence and civic responsibility. I’m sure the good Reverend Burnett would also focus on spirituality, with my total agreement.
And parents must not be afraid to discuss such topics as American slavery, the Jew- ish Holocaust or the Japanese committing genocide against the Chinese at certain points in history.
Sadly, as the right-wing state apparatus continues to cut funds to valuable programs and cause the proliferation of guns, while federal initiatives are threatened by power-holders intent on stopping President Obama, we must all dig deep within in order to stop the violence and uplift our young folks.
And quite frankly, much of our initiatives should involve encouraging young voters to get to the ballot box, despite the growing state-sponsored obstacles, and throw away the bullets in order to save lives.
Don “Ogbewii” Scott, a Melrose Park resident, can be contacted at dscott9703@aol. com.