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Kamari Posey (right) and Tretavis Taylor deliver lunches to elderly residents. The boys participate in the NAACP sponsored summer program.

Photo by Michaele Duke

Shootings and other violent crimes are becoming a concern in the community but one in particular is Joe Castle. As president of the Williamsburg County Branch of the NAACP, Castle wants to bring the issue to light and find ways to address it.

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Summer camp supervisor Grace Cooper (far right), along with volunteers Earline Page (left) and Monisha and Lashaunda Cooper bag lunches each day during camp for children and adult residents at Frierson Homes. Funds are provided by donations and membership in the NAACP.

Photo by Michaele Duke

Reading from a statement representing the organization, Castle said the local branch denounces what appears to be a rise in gun violence in the county, especially the effects it is having on our youth. Castle said the chapter feels this is a peaceful place to live and work and those who have a voice should speak out against it. He added those who do not have a voice can contact the chapter. “We do not accept this as just a new trend as it is around the country,” he said.

To combat the problem the retired Williamsburg County DJJ Director said the local chapter has a youth council in place. The council consists of a group of young people who are speaking out and talking about violence issues. Castle said the group works with schools, churches, and the housing community. “What we have decided to do is hit the ground,” said Castle. The process includes group and face-to-face interventions. “The youth council is regularly discussing how violence is affecting them in the home, in school, and we’re getting some pretty amazing answers.” He said those most affected by violence are the ones who will teach us.  “These children are acting out in school, at home, and other places and what we’re finding out is, a lot of it is out of fear.”  

Besides fear and a host of other factors, Castle also contributed violence to video games and bullying and recalled a statement by a young person. “He said, Well all I did was push him.” Castle responded by pointing out his action is considered bullying and also a crime. “Oh, said the child. I didn’t know that,” said Castle, adding violent video games are also a problem. “We’re still pretending that all the violence that they see should not affect them when we know it affected our generation.”

The NAACP partners with Kingstree Housing Development to host a Summer Enrichment program at Frierson Homes that includes activities and gymnastics. “We’re getting good answers from the children, from their perspective,” he said. He also said gun violence has been politicized. “The Second Amendment or otherwise, interpret that for yourself,” said Castle. “As long as this remains a political issue we’re never going to get any real answers because it pits me against you. I think it’s to the detriment of our young people and to our society.”