Clarence Davis said he easily recognizes the changes in America's violent behavior - then vs. now.
Mr. Davis, who was reared in rural Washington, Ga., in the early 1950s, told about 100 people at a victims' rights program Saturday morning that the lack of respect and discipline has been a large part of creating more a violent society.
"We have (in effect) lost control of our children," said Mr. Davis, a 20-year Maryland state delegate who now lives in Baltimore.
As breakfast speaker for National Crime Victim Rights Week, Mr. Davis said he has never felt compelled to leave his inner-city residence because of excessive crime.
In the early 1990s, when Baltimore became known for its homicide and crack-cocaine statistics, he called on his Vietnam War buddies and confronted neighborhood thugs.
"It's time for the community to take matters in hand," he said.
"They started calling us vigilantes," he said, after the men began knocking on doors of those suspected of criminal activity. He said that the approach was successful and that crime has since subsided in Baltimore.
"Our goal is a safe, sound community, and we must open our eyes," Mr. Davis said. "We have the power to make a difference."
The meeting, which was sponsored by Augusta-based Blacks On Black Crime Inc., also included a candlelight homage to local homicide victims in the past two years.
Deadra Williams, 26, and her daughter Tierra, 18 months, lighted a candle to honor Ms. Williams' boyfriend and the child's father, Rodney Johnson, who was shot and killed behind the S&S Cafeteria on Walton Way last November.
Candles also were lighted for Niteka Wesbey, a college student caught in a cross-fire during a gang-related apartment shooting in November 2000.
Barbara Thurmond, who co-founded Blacks Against Black Crime in 1991, said her group is the only victims' rights movement in Augusta-Richmond County.
"Although crime has decreased here, it's important to keep our movement alive," she said.
The program was held at the Beulah Grove Community Resource Center.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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