Free Press Staff
Free Press Staff
South 3rd Street residents and NAACP members gathered hands and open hearts last Thursday as they discussed the change that the Southside community needs to see.
About 25 people bowed their heads as they stood on the cracked pavement that sat under hooded trees. Rundown homes, some with boarded doors and windows, were along the street.
This meeting addressed the recent spike in crime within the past few weeks, after more than seven murders occurred in the NELA community. Most of the murders ended the lives of young people.
“We being the NAACP…we hear their cry. We want to let them know that their cry is being heard, that’s why we come to do our part,” NAACP President Ambrose Douzart said.
Douzart is also a local pastor and hopes that local organizations — such as ministries, fraternities, and sororities — would join them to resolve the criminal activity, especially before summer starts.
While some summer programs already take place such as the YMCA summer academy, Broaden Horizons, and New Vision Academy to name a few, Douzart says that more programs would keep the youth busier for the break.
“Summer months sometimes bring a lot of tension to that degree. We’re not here to pre-select anyone for the wrongness, but to make it better,” Douzart said.
As the residents and members cheered on and clapped for each speaker who discussed action, 17-year-old Dominic Dickens stood near his friends outside of the circle reflecting on life on this notorious street.
“It ain’t nothing major. We just surviving. People scared to come over here…but the people not scared…just adapt,” Dickens said.
“All we doing is surviving, [and]trying to protect ourselves.”
Dickens lost his friend Darvis Jones in the recent shooting a few weeks ago and said that Jones did not live that lifestyle, and if he were here “he wouldn’t let that happen.”
Not only does the community need to change, but the people must change.
“It’s happening everywhere. Every side of town. Every state. Every city. If we stop it here, that mean we gotta change everywhere else,” Dickens said.
Monroe resident Michael Abrams,33, grew up two blocks down from South 3rd. He says that the only way this community will change is if the people are given a sense of direction towards positivity.
“The only way things gonna get better: you gotta make ‘em better,” Abrams said.
“They need some direction. They need some guidance and they need some leaders that [will]step forward; not when a tragic event happens…but before the tragic event happen, make an impact to prevent the tragic event.”
South 3rd residents and group members agreed that there should be more activities for youth to stay out of trouble and make wiser decisions.
According to NAACP member Marie Brown, if the community does not implement investment of leadership opportunities, it will remain in the current state.
“We as a generation, [are]supposed to be preparing for the next generation. If we’re not doing that, then this is what we get,” Brown said.
Brown is also of United Minds of Joint Action (UMOJA) who hosts weekly meetings to gather effective input from local youth and organizations.
Their next meeting will discuss upcoming activities geared to giving youth more summer activities and the annual Juneteenth celebration.
Brown hopes that these upcoming meetings with youth and other organizations will implement action beyond words.