It had been a tough stretch, Jerome Carter said, what with a string of killings that had York residents shaken.
People were worried. Many didn’t feel safe in their own homes.
That was around 1997, the longtime York resident said this week.
But it’s not so different from today.
Jerome and his brother Bennie Carter were at Tuesday night’s York City Council meeting, during the often quiet public comment period. When the time came, the two stood up to speak about a recent string of violent crimes in the city, in particular along Route 30.
The brothers had been along that same stretch of highway last weekend, placards in hand as the traffic streamed by.
“Stop the violence now,” one of their hand-written posters read.
On Tuesday night, the Carters said they’re planning another demonstration, later this week.
The pair will be outside York City Police Department at 3 p.m. on Saturday, again with placards in tow, they said.
Like the previous demonstration, the Saturday event is to raise awareness about the recent violence, and to express support for local law enforcement charged with curbing the problem, Jerome Carter said.
How many people will be there?
“Well,” Carter said. “Us.”
That didn’t seem to matter to the brothers, who said they’ve been working to curb crime in the city for years. Not that they were looking for credit.
It started back in the late 1990s, Jerome Carter said, after crimes — and fear — not so different from today’s. The brothers helped form the “1,000 Black Men Against Violence Coalition,” an organization that drew more than that prescribed 1,000 to a march downtown about 15 years ago, he said.
“It was something to see,” Bennie Carter said.
And it sure seemed like it did some good, he said.
But time tends to erode such efforts. For most the memory of the violence fades, and people move on.
“Folks just started to lose interest,” Jerome Carter said.
Over time the movement was re-named, changing into the York County Coalition Against Violence, Jerome Carter said. That switch was made because the movement became about more than just black men, he said. Actually, it always was.
It was about what we do in the face of a frightening criminal element, Carter said. Then, and now.
We come together.
It’s happening again, the 72-year-old Carter said after the public comment period at Tuesday night’s meeting. Kids are still trying to show how tough they are, he said. The rest of us are keeping our heads down, struggling to understand it.
And we’re all suffering.
“We’re just tired of the violence,” he said. “We’re tired of people being afraid.”
So the brothers will be outside the police station on Saturday. Maybe others will join in the event, they said. Maybe not.
Maybe good intentions and a few words in black marker scrawled across poster board don’t mean a thing. You could just forget the whole idea, Jerome Carter said.
Or you could stand up.