Enough talk: Now it's time for action

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By The Staff

We’ve lit candles. We’ve held press conferences. We’ve asked for peace and cooperation from the pulpits. Now what? We’ve acknowledged that there is an increasing amount of violence.

And that violence has taken the lives of several people just in the last few months. The most recent victim was 3-year-old Jaylen Jackson. Jaylen apparently got caught in the crossfire of a gunfight.

Jaylen’s death sparked an outcry from the community. On May 27, government officials, law enforcement, local pastors and residents met at First Washington Baptist Church to discuss the rash of gun violence.

Speakers urged folks to be the eyes and ears of the community and cooperate with law enforcement. The Rev. Frank Butler, pastor of First Washington Baptist Church, suggested residents set up a neighborhood watch, patrol their communities and report suspicious activity.

County Councilwoman Charlene McGriff urged parents to be involved in their children’s lives and take responsibility for their children.

McGriff’s comments echo the sentiments of famed comedian Dr. Bill Cosby. Cosby has long chastised blacks for not parenting and taking responsibility for their children.

He admonished black parents during his speech at the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 2004.

“In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on,” Cosby said. “In the old days, you couldn’t hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye.”

He went on to ask why people cry when their son is wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.

“Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18, and how come you don’t know he had a pistol? And where is his father, and why don’t you know where he is? And why doesn’t the father show up to talk to this boy?”

Don’t get us wrong, violence happens in all races and cultures. But since the first of the year all four gunshot victims in Lancaster were black and the suspects were black. So, what McGriff and Cosby say rings true.

Margie Adamson agrees. Adamson was in the congregation during the community meeting at First Washington.

“It’s not up to teachers, officers and pastors to raise our children,” Adamson said. “We appreciate their help and welcome it. But we, as parents, are responsible for raising our children.

“And for a mother to say she can’t do anything with her child, she’s not doing her job.”

If you follow the online comments on our Web site, you’ll see that several agree with McGriff, Cosby and Adamson. They blame the breakdown of family for much of our violence.

“The sad reality is that (family foundation) is a thing  of the past now in Lancaster,” one commenter wrote. “There is a breakdown in the moral fiber of the community and everyone else in the community is left to deal with thugs running wild throughout.”

The fear of incarceration apparently does little to deter some criminal suspects. Demarcus Patterson is one example. Patterson was one of four people arrested for trying to rob Check USA on June 4.

As he was being arrested, Patterson told officers he wasn’t worried. He said he had been to jail 18 times and he would get a bond and sign himself out.

Putting a stop to violent crime is not going to be easy. If we truly want to correct the problem, it will take a coordinated effort – by the community, its leaders, educators, the judicial system and, most importantly, the parents.

We’ve burned the candles. We’ve talked. Now it’s time to put a plan in action.

“The main goal of the future is to stop the violence,” Cosby said. “The world is addicted to it.”

It’s up to us to break that addiciton.