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Black community leader wants to talk with officials

August 07, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Speaking from the steps of Hagerstown City Hall before 10 people Tuesday night, the president of a Hagerstown community group reiterated his claim that "the local government is not doing enough for the black community."

Andy Smith, president of Brothers United Who Dare to Care, said he hopes representatives from the black community will meet with Hagerstown elected leaders to discuss many issues such as city officials' reaction to remarks made during a recent NAACP picnic, the police and the placement of Westview Homes residents who are being moved out.

Smith had hoped to meet with the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday, but was not put on the council's work session agenda.

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City Director of Administrative Services John Budesky told Smith the mayor and council can meet with Smith on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Smith said he was not sure whether he would accept the invitation, because he wants other members of the black community to attend the meeting too.

Smith said he was "glad they are willing to meet with us."

Mayor William M. Breichner said he thinks the city has worked to help the black community, especially in the Jonathan Street area.

He said the city has recently paid for improvements at Wheaton Park and increased the police presence in the neighborhood.

Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said city leaders are not ignoring the black community, and that they listen to the concerns of the Jonathan Street neighborhood.

Breichner said he expects to meet with Smith on Aug. 13.

"It will be great to hear from Andy (Smith) directly," Breichner said.

The issues Smith would like to discuss with city leaders include comments made during a July 20 NAACP Family Celebration at Wheaton Park. Washington County NAACP President The Rev. James Irvin, and Del. Joanne C. Benson, D-Prince George's, told a crowd of about 100 people at the event that the local government is ignoring the black community.

Hendershot and Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said they objected to and disagreed with the remarks.

Breichner has said he was "surprised they would take that position."

Smith said Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith has worked well with the community. But Andy Smith said he is concerned police may be harassing street vendors on Jonathan Street by asking to see their vendors license three times this summer.

Chief Smith said Andy Smith has not raised that concern with him, and said he would "be glad to look into it."

Andy Smith said he is concerned about the relocation of residents of Westview Homes, who are being moved in preparation for the demolition of the public housing complex to make way for a new housing authority development.

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