In wake of shootings: A call to unity

A couple of dozen men gathered at a picnic pavilion in Memorial Park Saturday to speak out against the shootings that are claiming the lives of young blacks in Williamsport.

Dorsey Littles called for the need to make changes and for the adults to be a presence for the youths who otherwise might get into trouble and resort to gun violence.

“I don’t want anyone to experience what I experienced,” he said.

What Littles experienced was beyond heart-breaking.

In January, his son, Terell Henderson-Littles, 21, was gunned down and killed near Pennsylvania College of Technology.

“We need to be together,” he told the group of mostly black men. “This is our time.”

Ralph Jones said he called the informal meeting to speak to the crime problem.

Gun violence most recently rocked Williamsport July 20 with the shooting death of Ansari Wilson, 21, of 1510 Scott St.

Jones said the city has good citizens but they need to come together as one to stop future problems.

One by one, different men spoke to the issue.

Leroy Baer, retired deputy superintendent at the State Correctional Institute for Women in Muncy, said there simply is a lack of parental responsibility.

A tennis coach, he called for getting youths involved in such activities to keep them off the streets.

Harvey Edwards said he spent many years working with youths and opening up his home to foster kids. He called for others to do the same.

“A lot of young people walking the streets don’t have a home,” he said.

It’s doing the little things that can prove to be important, he added.

The Rev. Ron James said adults simply must be the custodians to the community’s youth.

“Our young men are like an endangered species,” he said.

Warren Earl, station manager of WXPI radio in Williamsport, said he got into his share of trouble as a youth, but eventually turned his life over to God.

Now, he tries to help others steer away from a life of drugs and crime.

Times have changed from the days when adults and parents were more involved in kids’ lives.

“Let’s have a strong presence,” he said.

Earl said he’s using his radio show, “Speak Out,” as a forum to air many of the problems in the community. This week, he plans on talking to Mayor Gabriel J. Campana and other community leaders on his program.

He said he’s also hoping to establish Sept. 1 as the day when all young men in the city turn in their guns.

Ron Moreland said education is the key.

Kelly Anderson, a candidate for Williamsport City Council, said kids need to know who the adults are.

“We have to come together. We have to stay together,” she said.

On the other side of Memorial Park, Patrick Cummings held a kickoff of his organization known as Unite Williamsport.

“I wanted to start a group that unites people,” said Cummings, who moved back to Lycoming County after living in Austin, Texas.

Cummings said people are increasingly becoming disconnected in their communities. For communities to flourish, their people need to unite.

Unite Williamsport, he said, is a “partnership of community members, city officials, non-profit, private, and business organizations leveraging mutual resources to collectively improve social, health, educational and economic opportunities in Williamsport.”