Don't Shut it Down

Wi Editorial Staff | 5/1/2011, 6:48 p.m.

The outbreak of violence at the African American Family Day at the National Zoo last Monday (April 25) spoiled a beautiful Easter Monday celebration once again.
Crowds of rowdy teens ran and jostled visitors, many pushing strollers and holding hands with small children, reportedly overtook the event that attracted thousands of Washington area families and tourists. They were there to participate in a multicultural tradition that dates back to the 1890s when African Americans were not allowed to attend the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

By day's end, Zoo officials were forced to evacuate and close the park and a 16-year-old was arrested and charged with "assault with intent to kill." Another teen was hospitalized and in serious condition for stab wounds to his upper body. The violence comes 11 years after a shooting held on the same day outside of the Zoo resulted in several young children being hurt. Short of shutting down this annual event, which many visitors who were disgusted with what they experienced are recommending, there are also calls for increased police training and presence, metal detectors, a dress code and a limit on the number of visitors.

The day of celebration brings into a focus a serious problem within the African- American community. Too many African-American children are undisciplined and are not being raised in environments that stress good citizenship.

Peaceoholics founder Ronald Moten realized it with the hundreds of young people he worked with and he often warned city officials about the impact of defunding programs that strive to teach values and discipline to our children. We agree with Moten's response, the African American Family Day must go on and that we, as adults, cannot shirk our responsibility to make sure young people can enjoy a healthy, safe and fun environment. If it was done for us, we, in turn, must do it for them