Marie Stamey: "Everybody needs a little help"

These quotes are drawn from the third and final Public Hearings of the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Biographical information was contributed by the speakers, and is taken from the Hearings program. Speakers addressed this topic: "What does the past have to do with the present and the future?"

Marie Stamey, president of the Eastside Park Neighborhood Association since 1996. A mother, grandmother, seamstress and resident of Eastside Park for more than 30 years, she has worked collaboratively with her neighbors, the Police Department, the City of Greensboro and the East Market Street Development Corp. to transform the formerly crime-ridden neighborhood.

"I moved into Eastside Park – guess when – November 3, 1979. I got my living room straightened up, on my way back to my kids’ bedroom, and just happened to glance at the TV. And I looked, I said, ‘Oh my God. I got to get out of here. I can’t be livin’ down here and this is going on.’ ...Even though I lived down the hill, I was still scared, because I had no idea what was going to happen."

"Well you hear things, and listening to what everybody was saying: the police did this, the Communist Workers did this, the Ku Klux Klan did this – I said OK, I don’t know who did what, but I do know I’m staying in the house, which is what I did. For almost 10 years, I went to work, I came back home. And then one night, somebody broke into my house, and I was in the bed sleeping. I called the police. That police officer made a statement when he got down there that morning that got me to thinking, okay, it’s time to do something. He said, 'in a neighborhood like this, anything can happen. And if the people don’t want us down here, there’s nothing we can do.'"

"So we got together, and we started talking to people from the city and the police department. I found out one thing: the police are not going to come to your neighborhood and work with you if you don’t want them there. We wanted the police there. And the only way that we could do that is to meet with them, tell them what we needed, and they had to make sure that they weren’t walking into a trap."

"I don’t mind telling anybody that I will be the eyes and ears for a police officer anytime - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I mean, if you want your neighborhood to be better, if you want the police officers to work with you, then you got to let them know... You’re going to have to get out there and let everybody know that what you want is somebody to help you. Because otherwise, it’s not going to get done."

"The one thing I have always said, that instead of us saying that the police officers work for us - that’s not true. The police officers should be working with us. Because they’re human just like we are, and they want the same thing that we do, to be treated like they are human. And if we can’t do that, dig the nearest hole and let us fall in, because I think that’s where we deserve to be. Live and let live. But everybody needs a little help."

"I tell the people in my neighborhood a lot, don’t be afraid to call the police. Because not only is that their job, but that is a way for you to number one, know who your police officers are, and let your next door neighbor know – no, I’m not scared. Being scared is one of the main things that keeps our neighborhoods from being the best that they can be."

"I will tell anybody that we in Greensboro have one of the best police departments in North Carolina. And I’m not saying that because I said we have a good relationship with them – I’ve seen them at work, and I know they’re good."

"They don’t always come in police cars. They come in unmarked cars. And they come in unmarked cars for a reason. We kind of asked for that, so if there is anything going on in the neighborhood that we may not know about, maybe they can see and let us know... And we do have block captains. Don’t too much go on down there in the neighborhood that I don’t eventually hear about. Because they don’t want it to go back to what it was in the 80’s. I don’t. And as long as I got my neighbors working with me, we’re going to make sure it don’t happen."

"I have run into some people that will stand there and look at me like ‘oh girl, you’re stupid.’ I say, okay, I’ll be stupid – but in the meantime, I’m going to do what needs to be done, in a positive way."

"The biggest thing is togetherness... It’s going to have to be everybody trying to get together and come to an agreement: This is what we want. This is what we need. Okay, somebody might stand in the way... please step aside so we can get what we need to be a thriving neighborhood, a thriving city, a thriving state. It’s going to take togetherness. No black, white, Mexican -- we have 10 Hispanic families in our neighborhood... they want to be treated just like we want to be treated, like humans. Because that’s what they are. That’s what we all are."

"As long as we have people pushing and pulling away, it’s not going to work. But if we pull inward, with ourselves, with everybody else, everybody try to come to one agreement, I think it will work. And I also think that Greensboro has 150% chance of doing just that."

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