Prince George’s Co. tries to lower crime with job prospects, basketball tournaments

After a local crime spike that’s included shootings and carjackings, officials in Prince George’s County and separate municipalities within the county are working to tamp them down with jobs and community bonding.

On Saturday, a gathering at Woodlawn Springs Apartments basketball court in District Heights to shoot hoops at a three-on-three tournament — part of the ongoing “Our Streets, Our Future” effort to keep youth engaged in productive behaviors and to prevent gun violence.

“We wanted to get the kids involved with something positive. There’s a lot going on in the community as far as gun violence, negative energy,” said Johnathan Medlock, City of District Heights mayor.

He shared how COVID has affected communities throughout Prince George’s County, and that District Heights is no different. That’s why Medlock wanted to organize something unique with the basketball tournament to try and bring out everyone in the community.

“They’re gonna find something to do. We want to give them [the youth] something positive to do, and give them some positive attention,” he said.

The sights and scents of summer were in the air, from several bounce houses to hot dogs on a grill, and tables with information about what’s available to the community — including employment opportunities.

“We have so many resources for them. So they say ‘Mayor Medlock, I need a job.’ OK, the resources are here for them. Whatever they need is here for them today,” Medlock said.

“We really want to match these young people in this community with real job and real career opportunities so that they can have more choices in life,” said County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.

Information on legal services, mentoring and tutoring services, environmental services were available — along with a mobile barber shop for those who needed a haircut.

Community leaders including Medlock, Braveboy and members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity offering to foot the bill for dozens of cuts.

One 6-year-old boy was out with his dad passing out fliers promoting the new book he wrote titled “Being Age 6 Rocks.” Dekari Holland hasn’t yet reached double-digits in age, but said “you can take your life serious now when you’re five, or six, or seven, or eight, or nine — or you’re a little kid.”

“Our future are in these streets. So it’s important that we get them out and engage them and meet them, meet them where they are,” Medlock said.

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