Everywhere I go this week, it comes up: the crossfire killing of 9-year-old Ciara Savage in York on Mother's Day. This tragedy has reverberated through York County like a news event seldom does. And it demands action. Earlier this month, Penn State York held a gang summit, and some powerful speakers made the case that York County needs to find ways to keep our kids safe. But all of their eloquence and passion couldn't come close to making the point the way this senseless death does. And this single incident is tied into a whole range of other issues that stand in the way of making York County a better place to live: improving educational opportunities; providing safe community places for at-risk youth; creating good-paying, family-sustaining jobs that lift people out of poverty; and establishing more affordable housing opportunities across the county.
But on the most basic level, I'll say it again: We need to keep our kids safe. How are we going to do it? The time has passed for letting the passionate volunteers on the gang-prevention coalition try to figure it out by themselves. That group will likely be the leader in developing a broad response, and its next meeting is at 8 a.m. Friday in Penn State York's Conference Center. To join that effort, call Beth Gill-MacDonald at 495-7267 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, a unity march will bring two sets of marchers to Continental Square: one coming down Duke Street from Crispus Attucks, the other coming down Beaver Street from the Jefferson Center.
On Monday, Safer York, York's Weed and Seed anti-crime program, will host a public forum at Community Progress Council. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at CPC, 226 E. College Ave., York.
The work won't end there. In the days and months ahead, the entire community needs to be involved, from the family in Dover to the cop on the street in Shrewsbury to the business owner in Hanover. In 10 years, will we be able to say this was a turning point? Will we be able to say we finally started dealing with the problems of poverty and gangs, as well as the cycle of violence they perpetuate?
We all have to ask ourselves: What can I do to help?
- Dan Fink