LORAIN — Building a sense of community and improving relationships between residents and police were the goals of Tuesday’s National Night Out.
About 37.8 million people in more than 16,000 communities in Canada and the U.S. participate annually, according to the National Association of Town Watch, the nonprofit group that began organizing the event in 1984. However, this is the first year Lorain has participated. The three-hour event, which drew about 300 people, was held on Pearl Avenue between East 28th and East 30th streets in South Lorain.
With 10,335 police calls last year, South Lorain ranked third in the Police Department’s five-district coverage area. Nonetheless, the neighborhood has had several homicides in the last few years, including the 2010 unsolved murder of Damis Crawford, a 30-year-old husband and father of three killed in a drive-by shooting on East 30th.
Cynthia Crawford, Crawford’s mother, told the crowd the event was one her son would’ve taken part in. Crawford called for greater positivity reminding participants that bad words and behavior can have violent consequences.
“People need to learn to love themselves so they can love neighbors, they can love their friends and they can do something that’s positive in the streets,” she said. “Remember my son Damis Crawford and remember all the other people who have been taken away.”
Crawford said after her remarks that the Aug. 13 anniversary of the shooting is always a painful time for her and her family. She hopes that the event will improve communication between residents and police and lead to tips about the killing.
Anyone with information can call Detective Steyven Curry at (440) 204-2106. Crawford said people need to understand helping police isn’t snitching.
“If something happened to their loved one, they wouldn’t want to think about snitching,” she said. “They would want to think about getting the case solved.”
The Police Department was among 31 organizations that took part in the event. They included the Boys & Girls Club, the Fire Department, Head Start, LifeCare Ambulance and the Lorain Public Library System.
Participants ate free hot dogs while children frolicked on portable playscapes. Natasha Roman brought her six young nieces and nephews and three cousins to the event.
Roman said the children had “a blast,” and she appreciated that the event was free. “In hard times like these it’s great to have something like this for the kids,” she said.
Co-organizer Tim Carrion said organizers hope to hold the event again next year and might try to link it to the Night Out in nearby Sheffield Township where a separate event took place Tuesday.
“Not to take away from either group, but to make it bigger and better,” Carrion said. “In the past, there’s been some divisions within our community, but seeing all these different organizations come together to support our community, that’s what’s fantastic.”