NEW: Providence NAACP Issues Call to Action with Community Groups

Monday, January 27, 2014


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Jim Vincent with the Providence NAACP prepares to address crowd outside Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence.

The Providence NAACP along with community supporters unveiled today a call to action in response to the "dangerous climate of tension and escalating violence among our city's youth" -- and announced a coordinated effort between groups in the city through the NAACP Youth Council to address issues of importance to the community.  

The Youth Council, to be headed by community leader Leah Williams Metts, will include the NAACP Providence Branch, Swim Empowerment, Project Nightvision, Billy Taylor House, Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association, PAVE, Urban Men Against Murder, It's On Us, No More Murder, Beat The Streets, Institute for Non-Violence, Sweet Creation Youth Group and Teen Connect

Jim Vincent, NAACP Executive Director told GoLocal, "The climate of violence, the apprehension in the community that exists, we have to do something. We have no less than 12 organizations working together, unheralded, doing everything they can, working with kids. We need to be more coordinated."

Vincent continued, "Leah Williams Metts is going to be chairing this effort. I admire her work with the Davey Lopes pool issues. This is going to be a NAACP focus, as well as voter registration. We want to not only tell the general public we're leveraging our resources, we want to remind folks that 40% of youths of color between 18 and 24 are unemployed. This cannot happen. If you think you can have a viable state with a statistic like that, you're naive."

Impassioned Voices Rally for Action

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Kayla Kilgore, Melissa Kilgore (holding picture of son Timothy), and Lisa Taylor.

"I lost my son in 2010 -- it's tiring to see that the violence is still here. We have to do something for our youth," said Melissa Kilgore, who lost her son Timothy to gun violence at age 25, in 2010. "They're being on the street, all these guns being on the street, it's not working. We need a plan. There's so much violence, we've got more violence going on here in the city than the whole state. This is all they're seeing. Somebody has to do something, it can't be poltical, it's people's lives, people are suffering."

Vincent addressed the crowd of close to 50 gathered outside the the Garrahy Judicial Complex, and spoke to the need for job opportunities -- as well as education.  

"How can we expect to develop a knowledge economy, and anybody in our community get those jobs, unless there's adequate education? We don't have adequate education. Just last year, 40% of 11th graders failed the NECAP -- closer to 70% failed in Providence," said Vincent.  "The education system is failing us -- us the taxpayers, each and everyone of us who works and pays taxes."

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Leah Williams Metts, and sons Gianni and Owen

Youth Council head Williams-Metts told the crowd of the effort, "We are here to help you."

James Monteiro with the Billy Taylor House gave an impassioned speech.

"It needs to stop," said Monteiro, of the violence on the streets. "We need to wake up, and stop fighting against each other. We need to educate and uplift individuals."

Pointing to the 195 corridor land being developed behind the crowd, Monteiro said, "We have a community unprepared for these jobs." Monteiro quoted Providence School Board President Keith Oliveira's PowerPlayer piece in GoLocal.  

Quoting Oliveira in what the city needs in a next Mayor, Monteiro read, "The candidates will also have to speak to how they will expand economic opportunity in the city. That’s not only about creating more jobs in the city but also how to make those jobs accessible to community residents. I would like to hear the candidates speak about how we prepare our current Providence students to occupy the future jobs that will be created in the I-195 “Knowledge District”. This requires a long-term vision of public education as an investment in workforce development."

Community, Candidate Reactions

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General Treasurer Gina Raimondo

Mt.Hope Neighborhood Association Executive Director Ray Watson, who was in the crowd, said, "At this point, what I'm looking for is accountability. We're being told there's no money to fund things that help our communities. This is getting more money," pointing to the Garrahy complex. "After a while, there looks like a plan in action to make things the way they are."

"We also need to be talking to the kids," he continued. "We should not be dependent on police enforcing our communities, we should also be enforcing our communities."

After the rally, Providence Mayoral candidate Brett Smiley told GoLocal, "I think it's great that communities come together to take action, but what they need is a partner is city hall. and while there's a lot of talk about public safety -- I'm proud to be the only candidate with a public safety plan, the best public safety tool is to give a man a job. The city needs to focus on economic development, we need to make sure that' broadly shared, spread, and accessed throughout the city."

Mayoral candidate Chris Young said, "I agree with Jim Vincent. There's a lack of jobs, lack of education. We need more police, illegal guns off the street."

Candidate Jorge Elorza told GoLocal, "I think that anytime there's crime or violence, there has to be a strong message that won't be tolerated... I appreciate them bringing attention to this. We have to get families engaged, we have to get community engaged. We have to provide opportunities. I liked how this was a loud and clear voice we have to do something every time there's violence."


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