HOUSTON - In an effort to clean up an area that is notorious for crime, community organizers teamed up with the Houston Police Union on Monday at Crofton Apartments to host a community get-together.
“A lot of times, we come out because they call us. They see us possibly taking someone to jail, but for this, they want us out here. It allows them to see us in a different light. We’re regular, just like them," said Capt. Colin Weatherly, of the Houston Police Department.
Dozens of children and their parents lined up to enjoy snow cones alongside officers.
"The officers that put their lives on the line for us every day to protect and serve and we have to give respect," said Courtney Alexander, who lives at the apartments.
She and her children were delighted by the event.
"It was so beautiful, and these kids, they're doing it. They’re looking forward to this. We don’t get this every day," said Alexander.
Crofton Place Apartments is notorious for crime and has been in the news for theft, gang activity, murder and police chases.
Many times, residents only see officers during the bad times, and they want to bridge that gap.
“When I see the police, I was, like, 'I'm going to run,' but when I saw what they’re doing and I'm, like, 'Oh, that’s awesome. I got to get me a snow cone,'" said Alexander.
Community leaders are also trying to help out.
The nonprofit Eyes on Me Inc. partnered with Free Indeed International to host "TEAM UP 2 CLEAN UP."
“We want our community to be cleaned up spiritually, so today we’re picking up trash as a physical act of faith to change this neighborhood," said Johnny Gentry III, lead pastor of Free Indeed.
Their mission is to get ex-offenders ready for jobs and to provide early childhood education. Gentry said most importantly it's about building relationships.
The city of Houston also participated and helped remove junk, such as couches, beds, human waste and other items people have dumped near the apartment.
Alexander said she's appreciative.
"We have to tell them (police) thank you. tell these people thank you, because we don’t know how troublesome their job is," said Alexander. "Thank you, guys. Thank you, guys, for doing what you do.”
Kodak Wyte shows up to the block party
Monday was a day to help the families who live in the Crofton Place Apartments write a new script for their lives and Christian hip hop artist Joseph McSweeney -- also known as "Kodak Wyte" -- was there with fellow performers to help them do it.
McSweeney -- raised in Acres Homes -- lived a life of crime as a documented gang member -- but says his faith helped him turn his life around.
"If I can do it, anybody can," McSweeney said. "I got seven felonies. I did almost seven years in prison. I lost everything."
The children of Crofton Place need the example of someone who can do it.
For years, the complex has seen high rates of crime -- from murders, to shootings, to gang violence.
"It's not too much for none of the kids to do around here," says 19-year-old resident D'Andre Williams. "Instead of getting into trouble this is what they need."
So Monday, McSweeney teamed up with a non-profit, a church and the Houston Police Department for "TEAM UP 2 CLEAN UP" -- clean-up efforts that also brought in fun, games and the artists for a block party to encourage the people who live here.
McSweeney's message is meant to be a caution for the young -- and an inspiration for the rest.
"I'm tattoos all on my face, eyelids, ears. And I still work a nine to five, I still lay tile, hang sheetrock," McSweeney said. "I mean whatever it is I gotta go do what I have to do to go provide for my family. I ain't making no excuses."
McSweeney also stressed that while he and his fellow artists are more than happy to come into Crofton Place and provide inspiration, he says it's up to the people who live here to make the decision to make things better.
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