PATERSON, NJ - “Everyone who cares,” is invited and encouraged to attend The Men Stand Up’s third street conference on Thursday, July 23. The event, which director Casey Melvin said is meant to help “increase the peace in the streets,” will be held at 10th Avenue and East 25th Street and begin at 5:00 p.m. A second street conference will begin at 6:30 at Hamilton and Summer.
“Somebody has to come out in the neighborhood and spread the message, try to help our young brothers and sisters out in the streets from harming themselves and let them know that what they are doing is not right. Nothing good is gonna come out of it,” Community Outreach Director Rashon Dixon said.
“We cannot normalize the violence and conduct ourselves as if it is business as usual,” Melvin added.
The street conferences allow members of the organization to share positive messages and make appeals to the listeners to curb street violence. Listeners are encouraged to share the message with their families and neighbors.
Paterson Men Stand Up held its first of the series of street conferences on Thursday, July 9 at two locations: Governor & Carroll St. and North Main and Arch St. Both locations are sites of recent gun violence resulting in a combined five deaths and seven serious injuries.
Approximately 50 people joined at each location. The event streamed live on social media which increased the audience to thousands of viewers.
The second of the series was held at two other “hot spots” in the city, 12th Ave & E. 23rd St and North Sixth Street & Clinton Street, where David, a young boy from the neighborhood, asked to share the microphone with the Men Stand UP making a plea for those engaging in violence to, “put the guns down and don’t shoot nobody.”
Bill Priestley, founder of The Fighting Seniors Citizens, attended each of the street conferences and plans to continue attending. When asked, Priestly said that he attends because "young people can learn a lot from the senior experience which can help them with the fight we're having right now. Because Men Stand Up and other young organizations can learn a lot if they would just talk to us. You can learn from hardships, and death, but that's the hard way. Or they can learn from us by just talking to us.”
Priestly went on to say, “I wanted to meet the Men Stand Up and I was impressed. I invited them to our meeting. If the elderly and the young got together we could have a real united front. It could be great."
“You see more seniors out there, standing up and fighting. There should be more people from the neighborhood. This is where they live. This is where they go to the store,” Maurice Moore of the Men Stand Up said. “I know they don’t hang on the street corner, but this is their neighborhood, and they should be out here with us fighting as a community, as a whole.”
Saying that “outreach is half the battle,” Quan Hargrove added that more needs to be done about street violence. “I don't think there is enough urgency from the people in our community on the situation that we are dealing with. We need more people; we need to fight as a city. We need the people in the neighborhoods, law enforcement, the politicians, the businesses, the organizations. We all don't put enough emphasis on what we are dealing with.”
Hargrove went on to reiterate the need for the community to come together saying that “a lot of people don't see an issue with how we live and how we treat each other. We have a fight on a lot of fronts. How do we win it alone? The lack of support is discouraging, but I love us. I will continue to fight for us. We [Men Stand UP] do it out of love, and we will continue to do the work, We need to see more passion from more people. This needs to be an urgent crisis-like situation for Paterson.”
Until that happens, and peace on the streets is achieved, Rashon Dixon said, the street conferences will continue.
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