Good Morning
Good Morning

Progress toward unity in Hempstead after Deja Joyner shooting

Nassau County police escort Jakwan Keller out of

Nassau County police escort Jakwan Keller out of police headquarters in Mineola today, Jan. 11, 2016 after his arrest in connection with her murder of Dejah Joyner. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Sometimes you see what you want to see. Sometimes you really do see it. What we’re seeing now in Hempstead Village looks like the initial stirrings of optimism in a community that so desperately needs that. It’s visible in several ways.

Most recently, Nassau police received more than 20 credible tips leading to the arrest of a local gang member in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Dejah Joyner, a crime that shocked residents who’ve seen too much heartbreak. Community leaders such as Hempstead Board of Education president Lamont Johnson praised neighbors for stepping up and speaking out. “I believe it’s to the point now where the adults are willing to take responsibility that we have to do a better job with our children,” Johnson said. “We all have to work it out.”

The school district, beset by so many problems for so long, is trying to be part of the renewal. It’s undertaking an ambitious makeover of its struggling high school; the graduation rate has gone up each of the past two years. It’s also seeking a new superintendent, an innovative educational thinker who knows how to lead people, as Johnson put it. And a mammoth project to redevelop the village’s downtown is moving forward — bringing the promise of jobs, tax revenue and economic activity.

Johnson says Hempstead is changing and growing more unified in its goals and efforts. It has a long way to go. But we hope that he’s right, and that the nascent steps we see today become the measurable progress of tomorrow.