(left to right) Ald.-Elect Roderick Sawyer, Keith O. Tate, President, Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, Nicolas B. Taylor , funeral director, Taylor funeral Home, Ltd., Father Bob Miller, St. Dorothy’s Catholic Church, and Rev. Dr. Marc Robertson, Sub-Area 6 Vice President, Chatham Avalon Park Community Council.
By Chinta Strausberg
Sixth District Cmdr. Eddie T. Johnson was late arriving for the Chatham Avalon Park Community Councilâ€™s (CAPCC) anti-crime meeting recently held at Hard Time Josephineâ€™s Restaurant because ironically he was dispatched to two nearby shootings including a fatality.
But, when Cmdr. Johnson did arrive at the meeting held at 436 E. 79th Street, he attentively listened to the Councilâ€™s complaints about a spike in shootings in the area and drug-related crimes then laid out his aggressive and expansive anti-violence plan that included supporting a pastoral peace initiative.
The pastors in the Chatham/Avalon area have planned a May 1, 2011, 3 p.m. â€œPeace for Peace Sakeâ€ prayer vigil being held at the Nat King Cole Park, 84th and King Drive.
According to St. Dorothyâ€™s Father Bob Miller and CAPCCâ€™s Sub-Area 6 Vice President Rev. Dr. Marc Robertson, churches located in the Chatham/Avalon communities will be participating in this prayer vigil.
While CAPCCâ€™s President Keith O. Tate, his members and Cmdr. Johnson asked that I not reveal his anti-crime plan, Johnson did go on record saying, â€œI want to put personnel that do nothing but go up and down the 79th and 75th Street business corridor to give business owners and their customers reliefâ€ from a recent rash of crime. He wants to make both feel safe and comfortable on these business strips that have seen a rise in shootings and related crimes.
â€œMost of the crime in this area is driven by narcotics,â€ Johnson said referring specifically to cocaine, heroin and marijuana. When asked the ages of these alleged drug dealers, Johnson said they range from 14-years old to about 30.
He blamed the drug activity for the recent spike in shootings and blames the cause behind this criminal behavior on â€œkids who have low parental supervisionâ€¦. They are experiencing a lack of positive role models in their lives.â€
As proof of his theory, Johnson said he would go to the (Police Departmentâ€™s) processing room and ask youth when was the last time they had talked to their father. â€œThey would say they did not know their father or he was in jail.
â€œThese absent male role models are problems because these kids will find a substitute role model in the streetsâ€¦surrogate parents,â€ he said warning that these gangbangers will steer youth down the wrong path in life under the guise of showing them tough love.
Johnson warned parents if they donâ€™t show their children love, â€œthe gangbangers willâ€ and the price will be painful, lengthy and sometimes forever.
In embracing the â€œPeace for Peace Sakeâ€ project, Father Miller and Rev. Dr. Robertson said they believe in the power of prayer and that collectively they plan to â€œtake back our community.â€
They are working with 12 churches where every Saturday, they will go to the hot spots and pray.Â â€œWe are declaring peace for this summer,â€ said Robertson. â€œWithout unity, there is no community. We must come together as one.â€
The ministers are also reaching out to the Precious Blood Church on the West Side where the pastor has a peace plan that places youth in a circle and encourages lengthy and meaningful dialogue. Miller and Robertson said this peace initiative is very effective in stemming crime. â€œIt allows youth to discuss their issues and problems in an open form. Itâ€™s called â€˜Peace Circles.â€
It entails is a four-day training period the pastors say is an excellent investment in reducing the violence. Anxious for May 1st to arrive, Robertson said, â€œWe plan to pack the park for peace sake.â€
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host.
Â Photo: Chinta Strausberg