From the orchestra, including the people in over-flow seating for the Council meeting, a number of solo performers stepped to the microphone. The voices, particularly of young black people were inspirational, articulate, full of wisdom and a source of great pride. Please listen on YouTube to the public comments section. https://youtu.be/XILE4ttKQX4 I know I look at the world through an emotional blur at times, but I remain moved after listening to a cry for UNITY to solve the crime occurring in Rocky Mount, NC.
People came to the meeting in despair over the loss of lives and crime in general. Warren Daughtridge spoke in support of Chief of Police, Robert Hassell. He reminded the gathering that what exacerbates crime has been years in the making and before Chief Hassell’s time. He urged the city provide resources that the police need.
Nehemiah Smith can make me crazy when he plays his racism record. “There is a dark shadow here in the chambers.” But, last night, this smart, educated, man put away the required time one must blame others, and stayed focused on his message that crime in the city is about REAL guns, REAL people, REAL life and needs REAL solutions. He used a quote that perfectly describes how people in Rocky Mount are feeling. He said, “I’m not lost, I just don’t know where I am.”
Bronson Williams, who is running for Mr. Joyner’s Ward 3 seat, was reasoned, and impressive in his plea to understand that the issues citizens are facing everyday, the loss of life, broken family circles, are REAL. He proposed strengthening the partnerships with schools. He didn’t dismiss poverty as a factor, but talked about teaching conflict resolution. The title of this blog came from Mr. Williams closing 3-minute comment.
Sam Battle, running against Mr. Blackwell in Ward 2, asked for safe zones, for restaurants, small business, and parks. He promoted the idea of buying up-to-date technology that is now available to fight crime. Sam is another advocate for the youth of the city, especially those he says, “get caught up in the ‘BS of gangs.” He asked for resources to provide support. Shante Batts spoke up for Rocky Mount’s youth insisting that every kid is not a gang member. Shante was told, “we can’t help you until your son gets in trouble.” She asked for support for parents seeking help before that happens. Erika Mitchel spoke passionately about coming together in unity to solve the crime problems.
Troy Davis spoke about things that a state of emergency should include. A curfew, providing the police with the resources they need to do their job, better pay, police living in Rocky Mount, which will help them know the citizens. He talked about the fleet of vehicles brought up to standards to be ready to respond to calls. He wants a gang and drug force, which was effective when he was growing up.
Crystal Wimes-Anderson, running in Ward 3 against Mr. Joyner, spoke as a mother, nurse, and teacher. She is familiar with the problems children bring to school. Crystal asked that we rally together to talk and listen to our youth that are at risk. Cooper Blackwell is a co-founder of the Rocky Mount Black Action Committee. In partnership with the city, he is seeking resources to help the group establish programs that address the cultural issues in the black community and other concerns the group is trying to address.
Jennette Amy Harris, living in Ward 5, spoke with authority on mental health issues in the community that influence crime; how essential support for those in the field of mental health is for the wellness of the community. Misha Lench started the public comments. She asked for “action for community needs.” Ms. O’rea(Sorry I could not get the name straight) gave a beautiful spiritual message to the City of Rocky Mount. Obviously, a woman of great faith she took her 3-minutes to quote scripture and remind the city…… in Stepheny’s Episcopal church language….. to whom we belong.
Moe Deloach is one amazing man. You add him to the other black people I’ve named above, and these are people working tirelessly in the black community. Moe works with Rocky Mount’s youth, many that come from South Rocky Mount where he was raised. He is the significant man in many of the lives of the kids. He sees the good in them, and believes in their future. He is working to see they have one.
Moe has a planned approach to reach the youth with activities like Open gym basketball, Movie Monday, Kids in the kitchen, Legos, Boys and Men (25-30 kids talking about life.) Popsicles in the Park, Summer Camp, Open Pickle Ball, Zumba, Line dancing, and this year, so far, 250 kids have signed up for Moe’s basketball camp. Moe is not just talk but puts his hands on the lives he touches. Years from now, these young people will talk about Moe Deloach and how his influence changed their lives.
I believe that the more the word UNITY is spoken, the ‘more better’ we can become. The people who came to the meeting were asking for unity. One older gentleman had never been to a council meeting after living 50 plus years in Rocky Mount. He spoke out of his concern. I continue to believe in the goodness of people, that together we will overcome our obstacles. That the leadership in evidence Monday night will prevail and Rocky Mount’s reputation restored. People and new business will come.