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Community events around Arlington aim to improve safety and tackle gun violence

A police officer plays a game of pickup basketball with local kids in 2018 (flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

This evening, several neighborhoods and organizations are hosting events in an effort to make their communities safer.

The events from 5-8 p.m. tonight will feature food, lawn games and activities for kids. Arlington police officers, firefighters and other county personnel will participate in the “National Night Out” events, which are also happening across the U.S.

“National Night Out is a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer and improve quality of life,” a county webpage says.

“During the event, residents in neighborhoods throughout Arlington County and across the nation are asked to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors and spend the evening outside with their neighbors, police officers, firefighters and other County personnel,” the page continues.

A smattering of civic associations, community groups, affordable housing nonprofit AHC Inc., and live music venue The Renegade in Clarendon are putting on events this year, according to the website.

Organizers invited ACPD and other organizations to attend and engage with participants, says police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

She provided the following rundown of what some events will be providing.

  • Arlington Village: Lawn games and refreshments
  • Cathcart Springs Homeowners Association: Barbecue
  • Cherrydale Public Library: Food and games
  • Gates of Ballston: Bingo, kids activities and music
  • Green Valley Civic Association: Food, kids activities, games and educational tables
  • Lyon Village Citizens’ Association: Refreshments

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Green Valley Civic Association hosted another event tailored to fighting gun violence.

Around 350 people attended, including three D.C. area mothers who lost sons between the ages of 8-35, says Portia Clark, the civic association president. Some 200 participants signed pledges to keep guns out of fights.

The impetus were recent reports of shots fired, a stabbing and some fights. These and similar public safety concerns over the last year have also prompted the civic association’s Public Service Work Group to meet regularly about ways to address violence in the community.

“This event was a way to help build relationships across the community and to get the community to pledge that they would not use weapons like guns to solve any disputes,” Clark said.

Coordinated by Tekhanna Hall-Harris and Javon “Blue” Harris, the event featured live bands and entertainers from Arlington and Alexandria, speakers, a prayer and a school supplies giveaway by Kingdom Fellowship Church in Alexandria.

It was a “great, family-friendly experience” and “no violence occurred,” Clark noted.

The ‘Guns Down Stop the Violence’ event in Green Valley on Sunday (courtesy Portia Clark)

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