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Your letter from home

 
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dulouz



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Location: Uranus

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 6:58 am    Post subject: Your letter from home Reply with quote

Quote:
Neighborhood center cancels basketball leagues
Worry about safety of spectators leads to anti-violence program
By KELLY WELLS
kwells@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 31, 2005
Racine - The leader of a Racine community center said Tuesday that recent shootings near the center have led the organization to suspend two popular basketball leagues and to create a program aimed at curtailing violence.

The Ray Hilliard Midnight Basketball League and the Racine Basketball Association League at the Bray Neighborhood Center, 924 Center St., were cancelled with a few weeks left in the season, Executive Director Jameel Ghuari said. On Thursday, instead of a basketball game, the center will play host to a Stop the Violence Summit, the first program in a series.

Ghuari said the decision to cancel the leagues was difficult but the safety of participants and spectators, who sometimes number between 300 and 400, was a concern. Earlier this month, several shots were fired outside the center after a game, five of them striking neighboring homes. The shots were not fired by a participant in the program, Ghuari said. The next day, a 21-year-old man was shot twice in the back outside the city's post-prom extravaganza a few blocks away.

Security an issue
"It was a good activity for the community. With both leagues, generally speaking, the players, the participants were not the problem. Most of the problems were on the outside," Ghuari said. As for stopping the leagues, he said, "it's almost like we were backed into a corner."

The root of the problem, Ghuari said, is that local police are unwilling or unable to do enough to provide security around the center, which typically serves young, low-income African-Americans.

"The issue is that there is a stigma as it relates to inner-city youth programs that there is a lot of trouble. If you aren't getting proper police support, it's almost like people are waiting for something to happen," Ghuari said. "We have received very little police support."

Racine police Lt. Dean Stanton said Tuesday that his department is doing all it can to help the center, including routine checks, sending officers on foot patrol in the area "on a regular basis" and responding quickly to calls for help. Also, the department sends squad cars through the neighborhood several times on nights of games, dances or other events, he said.

Since the beginning of the year, Stanton said, officers have responded to the center 31 times. Mostly that involved checking the area, but some calls involved fights, runaways and people sought by law enforcement authorities.

"We know that we need to be there," he said. "We do support the Bray Center, and we want to see it be a safe place for kids to gather."

Thursday's summit will start with an open discussion about problems plaguing the community, Ghuari said. Participants will choose the five most pressing issues and break into smaller groups to discuss possible solutions, he said. Other summits, perhaps held quarterly, will focus on the remaining issues raised.

Ghuari said residents must come together and find ways to make the community a better, safer place. Ending programming such as basketball leagues, however, does not help.

"If programs like this can no longer exist, what do we do? What do (the youth) do?" he said.

Shantane Marshall, a program coordinator at the center who ran the leagues, said the players were "highly upset" when they heard of the cancellations and even suggested playing the games without any spectators.

"It's sad that it came down to this," he said. "But we feel it's better to be precautionary, rather than reactionary."

Marshall is hopeful that those affected by the ending of the leagues will talk to their peers about why the games have stopped and help spread the message that the violence must stop.

Gym stays open
The center still will have open gym for basketball, with different times for youths and adults, he said.

Ghuari said a shooting last year after a dance could have been avoided had police responded when he asked for security as the dance let out. He said he called again a few minutes later to report a person with a gun but police did not respond until he called to report the shooting.

Racine police said they were unable to respond to help with crowd control because it was late on a busy Saturday night. Squad cars were dispatched after the report of a person with a gun, but when they arrived three minutes later, the shooting had already occurred, they said.

The Stop the Violence Summit will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bray Neighborhood Center, 924 Center St.
Neighborhood center cancels basketball leagues
Worry about safety of spectators leads to anti-violence program
By KELLY WELLS
kwells@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 31, 2005
Racine - The leader of a Racine community center said Tuesday that recent shootings near the center have led the organization to suspend two popular basketball leagues and to create a program aimed at curtailing violence

The Ray Hilliard Midnight Basketball League and the Racine Basketball Association League at the Bray Neighborhood Center, 924 Center St., were cancelled with a few weeks left in the season, Executive Director Jameel Ghuari said. On Thursday, instead of a basketball game, the center will play host to a Stop the Violence Summit, the first program in a series.

Ghuari said the decision to cancel the leagues was difficult but the safety of participants and spectators, who sometimes number between 300 and 400, was a concern. Earlier this month, several shots were fired outside the center after a game, five of them striking neighboring homes. The shots were not fired by a participant in the program, Ghuari said. The next day, a 21-year-old man was shot twice in the back outside the city's post-prom extravaganza a few blocks away.

Security an issue
"It was a good activity for the community. With both leagues, generally speaking, the players, the participants were not the problem. Most of the problems were on the outside," Ghuari said. As for stopping the leagues, he said, "it's almost like we were backed into a corner."

The root of the problem, Ghuari said, is that local police are unwilling or unable to do enough to provide security around the center, which typically serves young, low-income African-Americans.

"The issue is that there is a stigma as it relates to inner-city youth programs that there is a lot of trouble. If you aren't getting proper police support, it's almost like people are waiting for something to happen," Ghuari said. "We have received very little police support."

Racine police Lt. Dean Stanton said Tuesday that his department is doing all it can to help the center, including routine checks, sending officers on foot patrol in the area "on a regular basis" and responding quickly to calls for help. Also, the department sends squad cars through the neighborhood several times on nights of games, dances or other events, he said.

Since the beginning of the year, Stanton said, officers have responded to the center 31 times. Mostly that involved checking the area, but some calls involved fights, runaways and people sought by law enforcement authorities.

"We know that we need to be there," he said. "We do support the Bray Center, and we want to see it be a safe place for kids to gather."

Thursday's summit will start with an open discussion about problems plaguing the community, Ghuari said. Participants will choose the five most pressing issues and break into smaller groups to discuss possible solutions, he said. Other summits, perhaps held quarterly, will focus on the remaining issues raised.

Ghuari said residents must come together and find ways to make the community a better, safer place. Ending programming such as basketball leagues, however, does not help.

"If programs like this can no longer exist, what do we do? What do (the youth) do?" he said.

Shantane Marshall, a program coordinator at the center who ran the leagues, said the players were "highly upset" when they heard of the cancellations and even suggested playing the games without any spectators.

"It's sad that it came down to this," he said. "But we feel it's better to be precautionary, rather than reactionary."

Marshall is hopeful that those affected by the ending of the leagues will talk to their peers about why the games have stopped and help spread the message that the violence must stop.

Gym stays open
The center still will have open gym for basketball, with different times for youths and adults, he said.

Ghuari said a shooting last year after a dance could have been avoided had police responded when he asked for security as the dance let out. He said he called again a few minutes later to report a person with a gun but police did not respond until he called to report the shooting.

Racine police said they were unable to respond to help with crowd control because it was late on a busy Saturday night. Squad cars were dispatched after the report of a person with a gun, but when they arrived three minutes later, the shooting had already occurred, they said.

The Stop the Violence Summit will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bray Neighborhood Center, 924 Center St.
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