LORAIN — A gap exists today between youths and a community looking for ways to help as the opioid crisis continues to take lives, Imam Paul Hasan said Friday during the Holy Day of Atonement.
This year’s annual services are dedicated to promoting awareness of the crisis and motivating community action. The 22nd annual Holy Day of Atonement commemorates the 1995 Million Man March on Washington, D.C.
“The young people are no longer in the mosque. Young people are not going to synagogue. Young people are not going to church,” Hasan said. “They don’t see a relevant message in the institutions that we call institutions. They don’t see the relevance anymore.
“We have to quit talking at them. We must sit down with them and give them direction,” Hasan said.
The group heard from Ricky Smith, a drug and alcohol counselor and executive director of the Steele City Youth Football Mentorship Program, and Lynn Hampton, president of the Cleveland Black Shield Police Association, and was given a demonstration on how to use naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, from the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lorain County.
“I think as a whole, as a city, as a state, as a nation, we have to do a little bit better because we keep them here for a little while and then send them back on their way and they get back in trouble,” Smith said. “We all need to come together because there’s no one place that can do it; it has to be as a whole.”
Hampton blamed the drug crisis on a lack of jobs and education.
“The lack of education and jobs is directly proportionate to criminality,” Hampton said.
He thinks cities should invest in youth programs instead of festivals and demand businesses contribute to the communities they open in.
“How do we let these Dollar General and Family Dollar take the little bit of money we got left in our community today?” Hampton said. “Why don’t we make them put up money.”
Hampton also gave some context to the distrust between the African-American community and police.
“I would challenge you to talk to any African-American you know and he would tell you about stories of misconduct,” Hampton said. “The majority of the population has to understand the history of why the community feels that way about police.”
He put the challenge out for people to think about what good community policing would look like, and then told them to make it a reality.
“We need to have officers that are understanding and come on the job for the right reasons,” Hampton said. “If you don’t like the way policing is done, be the police you want to see in your neighborhood.”
The Holy Days of Atonement commemoration continues 2 to 5 p.m. today with several speakers and a community dinner at Lorain County Community College, 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria.