EDITORIAL: Are we in for another long, hot summer?

June 6, 2014 

A long, hot summer generally refers to the summer of 1967, when 159 race riots roared across the country from Atlanta to Tampa, Florida, to Newark, New Jersey, to Detroit. If this past week is any indication, the coming summer of 2014, will be particularly hot in Middle Georgia -- not because of race riots; not because of El Nino or some other weather phenomenon and not because it doesn’t get hot in these parts.

The coming summer follows the end of school and too many young people with too much time on their hands with no prospects or talent for employment are roaming the streets.

On May 29, 25-year-old Terrance Vanderrick Dent Jr. was killed in the 600 block of Grenada Terrace. The next day, Arika Jarrell, 23, and Ralph Heard, 32, were found slumped over in the front seats of a car on Fairburn Avenue, victims of an apparent ambush. That same day in Warner Robins, Marcus Hopkins, 34, was shot multiple times on Utah Avenue. He would later die at the hospital. And Wednesday, 19-year-old Majesty Jaques Conover, was killed outside an apartment complex where his girlfriend lives. What gives? Everyone would like to know, but the issue is systemic and has nothing to do with summer. It has to do with poverty, low educational attainment and lack of jobs and job skills. Rev. Ronald Terry, pastor of New Fellowship Baptist Church, said after a particularly violent spree of killings, “We have raised a generation of young people that is lawless, godless and fearless.”

People who live in the midst of ravaged communities and others would like to see it stopped. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere, but these people need tools to address these issues from within. Last week, a “Save Our Kids” rally was held in South Macon. Mayor Robert Reichert, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis, District Attorney David Cooke, state Rep. James Beverly and several county commissioners were available for questions and to begin conversations. The rally focused on gang resistance, drug prevention, sex trafficking, ancestral obligation and the gospel of Christ. Parent were given training tools provided by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Gang Prevention Unit of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department, Out of Darkness-Middle GA, Dr. Thomas Duval, Pastor Dexter Maxwell of Heritage at Houston UMC, and Minister Nathanial Jordan of True Faith Church of God in Christ. They conducted 20-minute sessions and parents could attend all the seminars in less than two hours. How many parents attended? Needless to say, there were more volunteers than parents.

If you missed last week’s event it’s happening again Saturday at True Faith Church of God in Christ off Jeffersonville Road in East Macon from noon to 4 p.m.

We can make excuses for not having the information, but the information is there. All we have to do is grasp it. If we don’t, the coming summer will be very hot indeed.

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