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OP-ED: Vigils aren’t the answer to stopping crime

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — There was a vigil held in Bessemer on Monday night on behalf of more than 100 victims of violent crime from western Jefferson County.  Those who organized the vigil were well intended and did no harm – but I wonder how much good it did.  This vigil followed the form of many others with local elected officials speaking on the impact of gunfire in our communities and families talking about the never-ending pain. No disrespect to the families, but we also need to talk about the cause of violence in our communities.

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By Hollis Wormsby, Jr.

There was a vigil held in Bessemer on Monday night on behalf of more than 100 victims of violent crime from western Jefferson County.  Those who organized the vigil were well intended and did no harm – but I wonder how much good it did.  This vigil followed the form of many others with local elected officials speaking on the impact of gunfire in our communities and families talking about the never-ending pain. No disrespect to the families, but we also need to talk about the cause of violence in our communities.

One step to reducing crime in our community begins with getting control of the kids in our own homes and my home is no exception. Yes, it is important to set standards where we live and this is something I have failed to do.  So do not get the impression that I am writing from the perspective of someone who thinks he knows it all. I am writing from the perspective of someone who understands not being able to teach values that are important to young lives. What I say to myself is, “You might not be able to achieve your goal, but it is still your job to get up each day and try.”

Our kids watch more TV than any other race, are more often left unsupervised and in too many cases, including in my own home, and are not taught the values they need to succeed in the workplace. If our kids are not taught the responsibility of regular chores how are they going to understand holding down a job.

Another thing that we must teach is respect for authority.  If our children are not required to show respect in our own homes how are they going to respect teachers, principals, law enforcement or others who may not care as much about them as you do.

I am a systems engineer by training so in my world the solution to any problem is a series of logical steps dedicated to a specific purpose.  Yes, there are emotions some may need to share at the vigils, but if we are to really address the violence in our communities, we are going to have to own up to the root causes and work to identify strategies to address and improve those problems. Or at least that’s the way I see it.

 (Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years.  He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM.  If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at hjwormsby@aol.com)

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times

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Community

West Oakland Food Giveaway Event a Success Through ‘Comm-Unity’

Common Unity is more than a slogan. It is the actual showing of what it means to be as one with the promise and actual example of itself. As one volunteer known as” Mr. Fab” said, “Community is nothing but common unity.”

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Photo Courtesy of Calle Macarone from Unsplash

First and foremost, I thank the Most High for making the June 5 “A Day of Giving,” a food and necessity giveaway a success. It was quite amazing to see all the sectors of our Oakland communities come together to make this event a fruitful and worthwhile effort at Ralph Bunche School and de Fremery Park in West Oakland from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

It was a volunteer-inspired effort that I describe as ‘Comm-Unity,’ which simply means common unity because it matters not what part of town you’re from. Whether a volunteer identified as a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic and or as a non-believer, it only mattered that they all had one reason and one common goal, which was to just serve others in need.

What was remarkable was the participation of those who were formerly incarcerated. Some members of this segment of the community showed up with their families and children and showed out by volunteering along with businesspersons and clergymen to help feed needy families.

The lines of vehicles stretched for more than one-and-a-half miles. More than 900 vehicles that had presented the Post newspaper coupon or had registered at the website address were presented with boxes of food and supplies. More than 200 volunteers loaded each vehicle after giving each driver a choice of a selection of the 52 different food items and household cleaning supplies on various pallets. Deliveries were also made to some elderly residents who did not have vehicles. The remaining food and supplies were distributed to non-profits that serve the needy.

A special shout out to the Oakland Post Newspaper Group, Trybe, Deeply Rooted, Ronald Muhammad, Ear Hustle, John Ya Ya Johnson, Missy Percy, Jamil Wilson, Attorney Anne Wells, ROC’S Richard Corral, Lee Oliveres, Jesus P. Peguero, Ricky “Styles” Ricardo, Paul Redd, Savior Charles, OG riders Arnold Torres, Gabe Zuniga, Rudy Yanez, Rolando Coffman; Janelle Marie Charles of Epsilon Phi Zeta, Mrs. Marsha Woodfork of Zeta Amicae of the Epsilon Phi Zeta, the Black Firefighters Association, Felicia Bryant, Mr. Fab’s Dope Era Clothing Store, Cesar Cruz’s Homie’s Empowerment, The Oakland Gumbo Cultural Group, Amina Nicole, Queen Johnson, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Walter Culp and the entire staff of West Side Missionary Baptist Church, who helped with organizing, rental/warehouse space,  equipment rentals, insurance expenses, obtaining  permits, food donations, refrigeration vans and donation of funds, and purchases such as walkie-talkies, pallet jacks, forklifts, portable toilets, laborers, social media posts and recruitment of volunteers.

Several elected Officials, including the District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife, clergymen, community leaders, community investors and local entertainers lent their support by volunteering to serve our community families in need.

We will continue to work with the Oakland Post Newspaper Group, to make June 5 “A Day of Giving” event a model for future giveaways of necessities that included boxes of oatmeal, fruits and vegetables including corn, green beans, pinto beans, chili beans, peas, pears, mixed peas & carrots, potato chips, gold fish and animal crackers, zoo crackers, Cheez-Its, cups of mixed fruits, granola bars, mac and cheese, Welch’s fruit snacks, canned pears, canned peaches, gallons of olive oil, whole chickens, varieties of luncheon meats (roast beef, turkey, sliced cheese), mixed nuts, Belvita breakfast cookies, Ritz crackers, canned chicken, spaghetti, whole wheat and white pasta, dry pinto beans, cases of bottled water, canned tuna, impossible burgers, masks, gallons of bleach, laundry detergent, surface cleaners, large rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, toothbrushes, baby wipes, dishwashing liquid, body wash, dental floss and boxes of peanut butter.

I was moved by the tears and shouts of joy from some families and children when they were showered with boxes of food and cleaning supplies that literally loaded down their vehicles. One mother said she was accustomed to receiving one bag or a box of food that could last for a day or a week, but she never dreamed that she would be given enough food and cleaning supplies to last for months.

I pray that this approach of providing a sustainable amount of food that was inspired by the leadership of Mrs. Egypt Ina Marie King will shine as the beacon of hope, pride and promise before our God Almighty. Nothing is greater than the powers of God and when our hearts are focused on freely serving others, we then are giving praises to God.

I thank Rev. Ken Chambers and the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) for coordinating a pop-up, drop-in clinic in a tent to provide COVID-19 vaccination shots during our food give-away.

Common Unity is more than a slogan. It is the actual showing of what it means to be as one with the promise and actual example of itself. As one volunteer known as” Mr. Fab” said, “Community is nothing but common unity.”

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Business

Go Fund Geoffrey’s

Whether it was Paul Mooney, Faye Carroll, Sugar Pie or Jay-Z performing or whether it was Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Elihu Harris, or Kamala Harris along with many of the Bay area’s elected officials they too have come to bask in the limelight of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle.

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Geoffrey's Inner Circle

For more than 30 years Geoffrey Pete ‘s business, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, has been a cultural hub because of its full-service restaurant, live entertainment, nightclub parties, jazz music and community special occasion events. Faith-based organizations have also rented the spacious facilities for services and concerts. Their full-service restaurant, bar and live entertainment business along with their tenants and multilevel event rental spaces have been severely interrupted and devastated by the COVID 19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Whether it was Paul Mooney, Faye Carroll, Sugar Pie or Jay-Z performing or whether it was Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Elihu Harris, or Kamala Harris along with many of the Bay area’s elected officials they too have come to bask in the limelight of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle. Now those lights are dimmed due to the economic conditions that have descended on high intensity people-contact businesses.

Thanks to a group of customers and supporters a Go Fund Me page has been opened for the public to contribute to support Geoffrey’s Inner Circle https://gofund.me/b2541419.

The Post newspaper has notified the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce that regular articles concerning the needs of Geoffrey’s and other Black-owned Businesses will be published weekly.

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Bay Area

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, Hayward

Saturday, June 19, 2021 10 A.M. – 2 P.M. at Hayward City Hall Plaza, 777 B Street, Hayward, Calif.

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Juneteenth Flyer
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