As a single senior female living alone, I worry about the future in light of the Trayvon Benjamin Martin case. George Zimmerman was a member of a neighborhood "crime watch" group and he felt it was his duty to protect his neighbors and his neighborhood.
I propose that we have more such groups in our minority communities protecting the single mothers and their children, the senior citizens, the disabled and the vulnerable.
I also propose that veterans living in our communities organize themselves to protect us. This is a much needed service in light of stories of whites killing African Americans just because …. and the “stand your ground” law which seems to give some whites the license to kill and get away with it on grounds that they feel their lives are threatened.
The women, the children, the disabled and the seniors need protection, too. The police have their hands full and with budget cuts the number of police will be reduced because of foreclosures and the reduction in property taxes. Where does that leave us?
We need to do what we can to protect ourselves and I am calling on my brothers who are veterans to rise to the occasion, look around and see what is happening.
We need you to organize crime watch groups in Little Haiti, Liberty City, Brownsville, Arcola Lakes, Overtown, Allapattah, Little River, West Little River, Little Havana, East Havana, Culmer, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Hialeah Heights, Homestead, Perrine, Goulds, Coconut Grove, Model City, Edison, Wynwood, Edgewater, Lemon City, Florida City, Bunche Park, Carol City, Miami Gardens, Liberty Square, Leisure City, Sweetwater, Poinciana Park — and so on.
Miami-Dade County police precincts work with neighborhood crime watch groups and help them organize. I live in the Northside police district area and their phone number is 305-836-8601. Officer LaTonya Graham works in the Community Affairs Division. She and others in her division can help you and direct you to others in your specific neighborhoods. While our veterans should man up, we want the ladies involved also. Look in your telephone directory for the number of your police department and ask them to help you organize a crime watch group.
It’s time to start.
A neighborhood crime watch group is made up of the people who live there. They normally meet once a month at a neutral place, such as a church, city or county building that allows citizens to meet free of charge and at a time when most people are available, in most cases, after work or on weekends.
At these meetings, residents learn how to protect themselves against crime, what precautions to take to prevent a violent crime from happening to you, how to have a safe trip, cautions on dates and in relationships, how to get “street smart” and practice street smart behavior.
YOU CAN JOIN
There may be a group already formed that you can join or there may be a void you can fill. To join the group you simply need to be concerned about your neighbors and your neighborhood. You need to be willing to give some time to learn how to be effective and to participate in a continuing organized effort to stop crime before it starts.
Signs displayed in your neighborhoods, on street corners and at homes let criminals know you are working to protect your neighborhood and they should move on because people are watching and will get involved.
Kathlene Hepburn-Okehi is retired and is collecting materials and information about families, businesses, churches and schools for a book on local African American-Caribbean history.