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Longtime York City activist Jerri Zimmerman, who recently held a late-night sit-in in the city's Olde Towne East neighborhood, said there's another one planned for the city's west end.

The previous one took place from 9 p.m. until after midnight June 4 at the intersection of East Poplar and South Pine streets; the west end one will be held at that same time Friday, June 24, at the corner of South West and West Princess streets.

Anyone who wishes to is encouraged to attend, Zimmerman said. About 16 people showed up to the first sit-in.

The idea, Zimmerman said, is to show the criminals in the area that there are plenty of residents who care about the place.

"We want the neighborhood back," said Zimmerman, who has long worked in the York City Police's community relations division as a civilian.

She said she's organized about 50 of these sit-ins, and she's found they push criminals out of the area, for a little while, at least.

Zimmerman, 76, has been at it for more than 35 years. She first got involved in fighting against a local nuisance bar that residents and police eventually got closed down after brawls there regularly spilled out onto the streets.

"I just made my damn mind up that no, this is gonna stop," she said.

And since than, the Olde Towne East resident has spent the better part of the past four decades chasing criminals, oftentimes literally. She readily recounts a story about how one time some drug dealers actually called the cops on her.

She said officers showed up and asked her if she indeed had chased the dealers down the street while wielding a baseball bat. No, she told them.

Later, she ran into one of the officers, and he asked her again: Come on, he said, you totally chased those guys with a bat.

"I said, 'It wasn’t a baseball bat,'" Zimmerman said. "It was an ax handle."

But her modus operandi isn't just force; she describes herself as an anti-poverty advocate, helping people obtain food and clothing when they might not have the means to get the necessities themselves.

"Poverty leads to a lot of our crime," she said.

She estimates she's been shot at about 13 times. The most recent, she said, was about a decade ago.

This month, someone fired a gun near the Olde Towne East sit-in, Zimmerman said, but the person was gone by the time they went to investigate.

"They thought they could scare us, or something," she said. "It didn’t work."

— Reach Sean Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @SPCotterYD.

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