Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Message From Nick Winkler

I hope everyone is keeping cool with the increasingly hot summer days. I would like to have had this message be a positive one about the start of summer, however, recent circumstances have dictated otherwise. We have been saying for many months now that with the coming of summer we can anticipate an increase in mischievous activity in Johnsontown. However, little did we anticipate it would be the very first night of summer.

As some of you may already be aware of, on Monday night there was a graffiti hit throughout our community. I have surveyed the area by car, bike, and foot now three different times and count 12 different locations that were hit. The tagging may not have affected your personal property, but nonetheless it affects all of us because this is OUR community.

Some of our members were hit, some non-members, our recently cleaned up park, and even one of our churches. I believe these recent acts of vandalism now put our months of planning and preparedness to the test. We will never be able to stop unwanted activity 100% of the time, this recent incident highlights that, but what we do now will show what our group is capable of.

I have spoken to the Police Chief, the Mayor, and the Public Works Director, who are all aware of the situation and taking the appropriate actions on their end. However, this now calls into question the very mission as to why we exist. We have stated that "we the residents of Johnsontown, are committed to creating a safe and clean community for a better quality of life in our neighborhood." These acts of vandalism are a direct hit towards our objective.

I am asking everyone to play a role in helping bring these vandals to justice. As always, DO NOT take matters into your own hands. It is not your job, in your best interest, or in your own safety, to do the work of the Downingtown Police department.However, that does not mean that our efforts cannot be used to help bring justice to this specific situation, and discourage future copycat incidents. With over 50 pairs of eyes consciously observing the neighborhood we should be able to make a serious impact.

There are a couple of specific things that can be done;

* Check to see if your house or property was hit. If it was, REMOVE the graffiti immediately. Studies show you are less likely to get hit again if you clean the area. For a relevant example, there is a garage that was hit in this recent attack off of St. James Alley, that would require extra effort to tag.

However, I believe the extra effort was made because there appears to be years worth of graffiti still on the garage.

They decided to add their mark on what is clearly the place that everyone hits.

- SAVE your receipts! Whatever work needs to be done, or products that are purchased to remove the graffiti, will be repaid by the vandals upon conviction.

* Make an extra effort to drive back through the alleys at night (St. James and St. Joseph's). Obviously this kind of activity happens after dark, so make an attempt to be more present.

* It is fair to assume that these acts were done by local children or teenagers in our community. Kids talk, so if you have children please ask them what they have heard from the kids in the neighborhood or their friends. Also, if your children are on Facebook or any social networking site, monitor their recent postings.Acts like these are often seen as bragging rights.

Also, speak to your children and the neighborhood kids about the incident. Make them aware of the situation and let them know that there are serious consequences. I spoke with some kids in the park earlier today and they were very engaged in talking about the situation with me. They agreed that it was stupid and are aware that the vandals will be in a lot of trouble They are now a couple of extra ears and eyes towards our cause.

* HELP ENFORCE THE CURFEW. During the summer months children under 18 years of age are not permitted to be out past 11pm. There are some exceptions. If they are with a legal guardian (a friend over 18 does not count), they are coming home from work, or if they are walking back home from a friend's house. In all other circumstances call the police at the afterhours number of 610-383-7000.

-Be aware of children walking with book bags in the evening. As reminded by the Police Chief earlier today, kids will often have backpacks to hold their spray cans in while committing these acts.

* Please report and document any incidents or graffiti to your respective Block Representative on our website

Remember this is one of the main reasons why we organized our community group in the first place.This is an opportunity for us to not only put to use the months of preparations, but to make a statement. An attack on one is an attack on all. There may have been times in the past where these kinds of crimes were tolerated, looked over, or accepted as the way it is in Johnsontown, but that is no longer the present time. In the past we were simply neighbors because of where we lived, but today we are community linked by our shared commitment and our active involvement with each other. We are Johnsontown Community Group, and we are now watching!


President~Johnsontown Community Group

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