The event is held to fight crime, organizers say.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Although summer's not over yet, those at the National Night Out Against Crime event at Wick Park said it's already been a long and dangerous season with several shootings in the city.
However, they hope their stand against violence in their neighborhoods will stop or slow down the shootings, at least for a little while.
"I wish we could do this more than once a year because [the event] cools down shootings for a bit," said Annie Hall, organizer of the city event and had of the East Side Crime Watchers. "The criminals know we aren't playing in the city when we hold this event. It makes people think twice about doing dumb things."
The national event, in its 22nd year, is held in more than 10,000 communities. The event, held Tuesday, is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local anti-crime programs, strengthen police-community partnerships and empower people to fight back against crime.
"It draws attention for a while and then [the violence] starts up again," Hall said.
However, it's important to have events such as National Night Out to fight back and attempt to restore order to communities, she said.
The local event included a parade around Wick Park, and a barbecue.
Also, people were encouraged to turn on their outdoor light from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, and talk with their neighbors outside.
"The goal is to bring neighbors together," said Frances Singleton, who attended Tuesday's event at the park and a member of the Northside Eagle Eye Block group. "We want to let the criminals know we won't put up with the violence. So far, it's been a rough summer, but we aren't giving up. This event will open people's eyes."
Willie Williams, head of the Northside Eagle Eye group, said events such as this prove there are citizens in Youngstown who care about their community.
"We are fighting back to make our city the safe place it used to be," she said. "There are people in this city who care what happens. When you see a group of people coming together and speaking out against violence, it encourages others to get involved."