Margaret Ann Moon spoke for the entire community Monday when she appeared before the Sikeston City Council and addressed the ongoing issue of roaming gangs of youths creating mayhem and vandalism after dark. Moon took the courageous step to call on the city to implement a "zero tolerance" policy in regard to city curfews and said her experiences were "a snapshot of what is transpiring and will continue to transpire in this community."
What triggered her appearance was a Halloween night incident where a "mob" of 14 to 20 black male juveniles approached her home and demanded candy saying they had a gun. Her home is located on South New Madrid and she owns property on William Street, Moon told the Council.
The Halloween incident was just the latest in a long string of vandalism that has struck her neighborhood. She listed dozens of episodes of damage to property and vehicles both at her home and her nearby property.
"If it (vandalism) is not happening yet to your property, it is just a matter of time," she told council members.
The concerned citizen said the Department of Public Safety was superior and exceeded her expectations. But she said the roaming bands of youths out after dark is a persistent problem that only creates problems: "I ask you, what business does a juvenile have out after dark?"
Moon also repeated what we have all too often said - parents need to be held accountable for the whereabouts of their children. She also said that longtime residents of the neighborhood had moved because of the concerns and property value was diminished because of the petty crimes.
We all know that she is correct with her concerns. We know what the problem is. And we also know the solution. But trying to change the behavior of parents who ignore their responsibilities is a problem plaguing all of society. Public Safety consistently addresses this problem and their efforts should be commended. Yet, the problem goes deeper than just more cops on the streets in specific neighborhoods. It takes community involvement and more voices like that of Margaret Ann Moon. In the past, there have been other residents in similar neighborhoods who have voiced the same concerns. But it will take voices coming from the north end of Sikeston before the problem is elevated to the top of the city's agenda. The more affluent sections of our community have yet - for the most part - been fairly isolated from this persistent vandalism. But the words of this one citizen ring true - if it's not happening to you yet, it's just a matter of time.
We applaud Mrs. Moon as should every citizen of this community. She is saying "enough is enough" and that's a message that should resonate in every coffee shop and beauty parlor and church in this community.