Residents unite for NAACP Community Day

By Greg Gelpi

Only weeks ago, Riverdale Park was the site of a gang battle that killed a 4-year-old, but Saturday it was the site of the Clayton County NAACP's Community Day, an event to unite the residents of the area.

Residents mingled with members of the NAACP, candidates for political office and people at various information booths, including the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.

"Actually, I like the information we're getting out here, and the food is good," Arthur Goodman of Riverdale said. "It's an opportunity for people in the community to get out and interact."

With rain threatening to come down and other events planned at the same time, Clayton County NAACP President Dexter Matthews said he was pleased with the turnout.

Although the NAACP's first Community Day was planned before the June 6 killing of Trevon Wilson, Matthews said the park was the "perfect" place for the event, since many in the area are aware of the problems the community faces.

"It's usually very peaceful," he said. "Hopefully, it's a one time incident, but if we don't do something then it will happen again."

Matthews said that the community didn't do anything when learning of gang activity at Riverdale and North Clayton high schools a few years ago and the violence of today is a result.

While law enforcement are paid to patrol the streets and protect the county's residents, they can't be everywhere and can't see everything, he said. The community must work with law enforcement to solve the county's crime problems.

Clayton County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Kessler handed out informational brochures on issues such as how to avoid being a victim. Kessler, the crime prevention and neighborhood watch coordinator, said his information focuses on education, crime prevention and safety.

"Any kind of event like this is good," he said.

Selling an array of handcrafted goods, Claudette Neal said she was happy that the rain held out. She makes and sells tissue covers designed like couches complete with matching pillows to raise funds for the NAACP.

"We just need to be with the community," Neal said.