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Block party, vigil aimed at increasing police-community trust

Sean Philip Cotter
505-5437/@SPCotterYD
  • A block party will be held Thursday outside the police stationin York City.
  • A prayer vigil around the police station is slated for Monday, Aug. 22.

Two planned events around the York City Police station are intended to demonstrate mutual support between the police and the community.

First, a block party will be held  Thursday outside the station, where later in the month a prayer vigil is scheduled to take place. The vigil is organized by some of the same people who turned out for a July rally protesting shootings by police across the country.

Block party flier

The York United Block Party, themed Unity for our Community, will close down the first block of West King Street from 6 to 8 p.m. and feature music, games and food, according to Jamiel Alexander, who’s involved with both events. A number of local organizations, including Veterans’ Helping Hand and Logos Academy, have joined forces to present the free block party.

He described Thursday's event as, "just basically an old-school block party."

Alexander was one of a few hundred people who showed up in front of the police station at 50 W. King St. in July, after a  spate of controversial police shootings of black men spurred similar protests around the country.

Yorkers rally to protest police shootings

He said his goal for rallies such as the July gathering and the upcoming events is to encourage more trust between police and the communities they serve.

"I'm just in there for solidarity," he said.

He said he sat down with Police Chief Wes Kahley, Mayor Kim Bracey and Councilwoman Sandie Walker to talk about police-community relations. Police wanted to know what he was looking for.

Activists want acknowledgement, communication

"We just said: 'Hey, lets sit down, break bread,'" Alexander said. Sitting down and eating food with someone is a good way to encourage normal conversation and good will, he said.

It's a "community event created to unite and support each other on all levels," said Walker via text message. Walker is city council's liaison to the police department.

Prayer circle: On Monday, Aug. 22, Yorkers are organizing a prayer vigil, also outside the police station — or, more specifically, around it. Alexander said the goal is to form a big ring.

"We want to have enough people there to circle the whole block," he said.

Organizer Liz Morales wrote in a Facebook post promoting the event that they're going to pray for unity.

"Let's speak the same language. The language of prayer," she wrote.

Morales wrote that this is "to not only show our support for this great city but to pray for each other and those that serve and protect us in many ways ... it would be beautiful to be able to make a human circle around the whole police station and pray."

City Council member Sandie Walker comments during the mayor's news conference on the spike in violent crime in York City, Monday January 11, 2016. (John A. Pavoncello - The York Dispatch)
York City Mayor C. Kim Bracey delivers the State of the City Address at Hannah Penn Middle School, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. 
John A. Pavoncello photo
York City Police Chief Wes Kahley

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

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