Brothers Bennie Carter, 75, left, and Jerome Carter, 72, are organizing an anti-violence rally at 3 p.m. Saturday in front of the York City police station.
Brothers Bennie Carter, 75, left, and Jerome Carter, 72, are organizing an anti-violence rally at 3 p.m. Saturday in front of the York City police station. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

Even back in Bennie Carter's day, boys and young men fought over York City turf.

Racial tension and neighborhood loyalty were real. But usually, Carter said, groups with names like the Sounds and the Stompers tussled with each other, then reconciled the next day at school.

"Sure, we had fights. But they were fist fights," Carter, 75, said. "I don't remember any crime like it is now."

These days, it's not uncommon for someone to end up dead after a fight over York City turf.

Last weekend, Carter and his brother Jerome stood along Route 30 near the sites of several recent shootings. They held signs that read "Tired of the violence!" and "Let's end violence. Honk!"

At 3 p.m. Saturday, they'll do it again. This time, the brothers and their supporters will be in front of the York City Police Department at 50 W. King St., where they'll hold signs asking motorists to honk in support of the police.

The police, Jerome Carter said, "are trying to get this thing under control."

The Carters are hoping hundreds of people will join them Saturday.

"What we can do about the violence, I don't know," Jerome Carter told the York City Council on Tuesday night. "But we're tired of it. We've got to do something."

Drugs: Gang culture took a turn for the worse, the Carters said, when the illegal-drug trade arrived on York's doorstep.

"That's 99 percent of it," Jerome Carter, 72, said.

Today, the violence is so out of control that members of the so-called Parkway and south-side "crews" -- or loosely organized neighborhood gangs -- can't cross invisible lines without risking death.

"Right now, if someone from Parkway were to come on Penn Park, there's going to be a big fight," Bennie Carter said. "There's going to be a lot of shooting going on."

Activists: The brothers are not new to community activism.

In 2004, inspired by the 1995 Million Man March in Washington, D.C., the Carters organized the 1,000 Black Man March Against Violence in York. The all-day event included workshops, unity exercises and marching.

The group still exists, though its numbers have dwindled to just a few. In an effort to be more inclusive, they've also changed the name to the United Coalition Against Violence.

The brothers are sons of a Baptist deacon who moved his family from South Carolina to York when Bennie Carter was just 2 years old. Bennie is the oldest of six siblings, all of whom still live in York County.

Jerome Carter was born and raised in York.

The brothers are calling on the community to stand up to the drug dealers and gangs who have created fear.

"The longer you keep silent, the stronger this gets," Jerome Carter said.

To get involved: Bennie and Jerome Carter are asking the community to join them at 3 p.m. Saturday in front of the York City Police Department, 50 W. King St., to show support for police efforts to curb violence. The Carter brothers are also active with the United Coalition Against Violence. Anyone interested in anti-violence activism can contact Bennie Carter at (717) 845-6537 or Jerome Carter at (717) 843-0690.