Thursday, April 14, 2011

Raising their voices in Chester

 You have to give James Miller credit.

A lot of people have been pointing fingers in the wake of the latest fatal shootings in Chester. Gunfire rang out at a crowded teen party Friday night. Two young people were killed, and eight others wounded.

Last night more than 200 people gathered in Chester City Hall to discuss the problem. That in itself is a good thing, perhaps a sign that Chester residents are ready to deal with the problem.

Miller got up in front of that crowd and pointed a finger of blame.

At himself.

Miller is an ex-con and he apologized to the children of Chester for giving them exactly the wrong role model to follow.

At one time, Miller was all about the same vicious cycle of guns and drugs that continues to be the scourge of Chester. It doesn’t offer riches and fame, he warned young people. It offers the same fate that has befallen so many young people in the city – dead at a young age.

Today Miller is administrative coordinator of HOPE (Helping Others and ourselves Productively Excel). HIs message to young people? Been there, done that. And it doesn't work.

City officials indicated they will be placing a strict curfew on young people this summer. Starting June 1, those under 18 will have to be off the street from 9 p.m.-5 a.m.

Mayor Wendell Butler has been resistant to calls from the community to re-institute the kind of State of Emergency put in place in the wake of a string of fatal shootings last summer. That included a curfew for all residents, and a ban on public gatherings.

The curfew will help. But not as much as people like James Miller. The city needs a lot more like him.

Here’s hoping others will join his voice. And that the kids listen to them.

CLICK HERE for full coverage and video from last night's meeting.


Blogger Ruby said...

I would like to contact James Miller and find out how I can get involved with HOPE. I no longer live in Chester, and will be coming to visit during Penn Relays weekend. Please forward my information along to James Miller.
Ruby Bost (Jackson)

April 14, 2011 at 7:19 AM 

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