Atlantic City residents gathered for the fourth Community Cookout of the summer Tuesday afternoon.

The cookouts, sponsored by Stop The Silence, are meant to bring community organizations together with community members.

Tuesday’s barbecue was held at New York Avenue School. Inside the fenced-off blacktop area, a DJ blasted jazzy hip-hop. Atlantic City fire fighters tapped a fire hydrant and let kids spray the fire hose. Community members grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.

“We have just a bunch of people together,” said Jacki Brown, with Title 1 Atlantic City. “It’s a chance for people from the community to come set up tables. We invited PAL, Boys and Girls Club, youth ministry, churches. We have everybody getting together. Parents can come to one spot and register their kids for all of the events in the fall, so that all the kids have some place to be.”

Stellzene Roberts, of Atlantic City, said the cookouts could be a building block to a new future for Atlantic City.

“Because we’re doing something, we have people coming out and thinking, ‘Maybe we can do this.’” she said. “If they start developing more programs where people can contact police anonymously, then I believe it is going to be a big success. But unfortunately, they have a long way to go.”

Samihah Jones, of Atlantic City, came with her three children and her cousin.

“I see it bringing the kids together, and bringing adults together, and then maybe if they keep having these kinds of events then maybe people will come together and start speaking up on the problems that are going on in our community,” she said. “They have food and stuff. We went to the little fire hose. They got to shoot that. They were in the SWAT trucks. They got those shirts that say ‘Stop the silence, stop the violence.’”

Jones’ cousin, Sarah Gillespie, 12, of Atlantic City, enjoyed the event.

“It was a lot of kids from different schools,” she said.

Brown said the cookouts offer a chance for the community to get to know local law enforcement.

“You see the kids more readily go over to the police cars,” she said. “The kids know the police officers a little more. Now when they see them in the neighborhood, or they see them on the street, they’ll go up to them and talk to them. That’s really good.”

Katurah Jackson, of Atlantic City, came with her two children. She said the community knows what the problems are, but they are aren’t comfortable talking about them.

“I think, if people get to know each other better, it would give people an opportunity to open up about what goes on in our community,” she said. “They get more comfortable. My kids liked everything. They got involved. They talked to officers. They interacted with the firemen. They go to school here. I think it’s great.”

The next Community Cookout will be held Aug. 23 at Pop Lloyd Stadium.

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