Sunday, May 18, 2008

Block Party!

There was a party on my street last night that was organized as a fundraiser cookout for the daughter of Julius Sockwell, who was shot by a friend one year ago. It's a very tragic motivation for a party, but it's also a great memorial.

The party didn't really get going until around 5pm (and was over by 10pm). There was a DJ playing dance music, and probably close to a hundred people either sitting on their porches watching, dancing in the street, or hanging out on the sidewalk with friends. Maybe half the people were little kids--after a couple hours, I remembered that I had some left over chalk, so I brought that out for some of the kids to play with. I wound up talking to an older kid (maybe 10 or 11) about how guns are dangerous. He gave me the low-down on gangs in our neighborhood (I can now identify Crips and Bloods), and we talked about how there are better choices than joining a gang. It sounded like his mom and his aunt have been working hard to keep him out of trouble. It sounded like he was almost reciting what they had taught him.

The only real downside to the party is that they didn't shut down the street. There were a lot of drivers using the street as a cut-through to get somewhere else. Fortunately, the dancers were blocking the middle of the street--some of the drivers started out going too fast and might have hit one of the little kids running around, but they were forced to slow down and stop because of the crowd. The cops came by at one point and told the dancers to stay out of the middle of the road, which they did for a little while. Next year, the party organizers should get permission to shut the street down completely.

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