EDITORIAL: 'Great surge' in activism

The York Dispatch

Thumbs up: Inspiring is a good way to describe some York residents’ and city supporters’ response in the face of injustice.

They’re not wringing their hands — they’re organizing.

At least five local activist efforts have started up since 2016, at a time when York City is struggling with racial, socioeconomic and crime issues.

The groups include:

  • Black Love Movement: Founded by Shareef Hameed, who recently moved back to York City from North Carolina. Hameed immediately started the movement in response to the violence in the city and holds weekly meetings at Penn Park to address the issue.
  • The Community Street Soldiers: Led by the Rev. Larry Walthour of Shiloh Baptist Church. The group began in 2016 and marches through parts of city neighborhoods often affected by constant violence to promote awareness.

More:Activism stronger than ever amid racial, socioeconomic tension in York City

  • The Movement: Founded by Anu Banks in 2016 before also welcoming Tonya Larry and Raymond Johnson Bull. The Movement holds weekly Facebook Live videos with guests discussing race, wealth disparity and opportunities in the city.
  • The Princess and Pine Infill Zoning District: Founded by Bob Wood in January in the neighborhood of Princess and Pine streets. The organization serves as a "grass roots project initiated by neighborhood residents, business people and property owners for the purpose of improving the neighborhood," according to its Facebook page.
Members of Latinos Unidos of York, a nonprofit organization empowering the local Latino community, unveiled its new logo Friday, June 1, in front of The Parliament Art Gallery and Tea Bar at 116 E. King St. in York City. Logan Hullinger photo
  • Latinos Unidos of York: Founded by Lou Rivera and a group of other Latino locals in January.  The recently certified nonprofit organization "empowers the Latino community and strengthens the bonds to create social, civic and economic integration of Latino families," Rivera said.

"I think this is a great, positive surge," Mayor Michael Helfrich said of the groups. "They're building community, and that's what you need to do. You can't help each other unless we know each other."

Visit yorkdispatch.com to read reporter Logan Hullinger’s report on these new activist groups and to find information on how to contact them

Thumbs up: To York Suburban’s new superintendent, Timothy Williams, who’s taking the reins after a particularly troubling time for the district and appears to recognize a necessary but difficult task ahead.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done to build relationships and build trust again," he said, noting that it will probably take a few years.

Former superintendent Shelly Merkle resigned in September 2017 after she vandalized two vehicles used by former assistant superintendent Patricia Maloney.

More:Meet Dr. Williams: York Suburban's new superintendent starts this fall

Emails between district officials, obtained by The York Dispatch, appear to show a coordinated effort to clamp down on information about Merkle's sudden absence, which wasn't acknowledged publicly for more than a week.

Merkle, 55, of Spring Garden Township, was charged with two counts of criminal mischief but was accepted into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. The York County diversionary program allows first-time nonviolent offenders to avoid convictions by instead completing court-ordered requirements.

Williams, who started with Suburban in July, said he faced a similar situation when he became superintendent at Westmont Hilltop School District in Johnstown in 2016.

Dr. Timothy Williams, York Suburban's new superintendent, keeps a hand made guitar, which he made at his last school, to practice his guitar lessons, strumming "Smoke on the Water," Monday, August 13, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

He added he plans to do for Suburban what he did for Westmont: Build on its strengths, move forward and leave the district in much better shape than it was in when he arrived.

We wish Williams the best of luck as he works to restore good relationships.

York Suburban families deserve nothing less.