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York City rally combines anti-violence message with cleanup effort
They marched over broken sidewalks, past curbs lined with trash, past burnt-out homes and some with windows missing. Motorists honked, neighbors looked on.
The group of about 16 marchers, some of whom carried signs, gathered Sunday morning to spread an anti-violence message and help clean up a few of York's streets.
It was the second anti-violence rally organized by city resident John Beck, who contacted the organization Punks for Positivity to join forces and take action on both causes.
Beck said he was inspired to organize the events after being attacked in September.
"He stole money out of my pocket, I confronted him and he threatened to stab me," Beck said of his assailant. "Then, I took his picture and he chased me and tried to get my phone back. He tackled me and I almost went face-first through the window of where I work."
"The whole thing is just: We care," Beck said. During the last rally, he said, the family of recent shooting victim Erik Miranda got involved, and marchers went to Miranda's house — where he was shot — for a moment of silence.
Beck said he'd like to get more kids involved in future anti-violence events.
All ages: Six-year-old Richard Dykes and Beck took turns leading the small crowd in a call-and-response chant of "Whose streets?" "Our streets!"
Richard's mom, city resident Ginnie Rivera, said she is part of the Stop the Violence group. She said she brought her son because he enjoys it.
"On the way over, he said, 'We're helping God by stopping the violence!'" she said.
The marchers walked down George Street, up Philadelphia Street and onto Walnut Street.
Delma Welch participated in the rally with her wife, Peggy. The couple, who live near Albemarle Park, said they moved to the city about 25 years ago because of its passing of the Human Relations Act, which protects LGBT people from discrimination.
The couple said they have marched for gay and women's rights for decades.
"We're used to carrying signs," Peg Welch said.
"We're hoping to bring attention to the issue (of violence)," Delma Welch said, adding that they wanted to attend the rally to show that people of a wide range of ages care about ending the violence in York — she said she is 68 and Peg is 63.
Joining in: Robbin Treadway, a grandmother of 10 who lives in the 500 block of Walnut Street, engaged the marchers in conversation as they went by.
Treadway is unhappy with the violence in her neighborhood.
"They shot our neighbor's house up, broke their windows with paintballs," she said. That happened two weeks ago.
Last Thursday, she said, a kid wielding a BB gun shot her in the rear. She called the police, worried that the dozens of kids on bikes on her street might have real guns, but they never came.
Treadway said she tried to organize her own anti-violence rally a few weeks ago, but she couldn't get a permit.
She and granddaughter Ne'Tannya Sipe, 10, joined marchers in the cleanup, which Punks for Positivity's Dustin Hildebrand said would start on East Walnut Street.
"You get tired of hearing gunshots, don't you?" Treadway said to Ne'Tannya, who nodded.
"What do you do when you hear them?"
"Dip down," Ne'Tannya said, looking up at her grandmother.
"Until when?" Treadway asked.
"Till you say."
— Reach Julia Scheib at firstname.lastname@example.org.