Volunteers gather to clean up streets of Troy
One day after Phillip McMillan, 17, was laid to rest, volunteers gathered in the same Troy neighborhood in which he was shot to clean up littered streets. Matt Hunter reports.
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TROY, N.Y. – One day after Phillip McMillan was laid to rest, members of the 17-year-old's church honor his memory Sunday at the site where he was gunned down Tuesday night.
At the same time in the same Troy neighborhood, the community group Hill Side North came together to clean up Troy's littered streets.
"It's amazing to me,” volunteer Kim Mazor said. “I've seen people just finish pizza on a paper plate and just toss the paper plate in front of their own home, I don't understand how that happens."
"People are littering too much and it's just sad for the environment that we have to see this every day," said Deja Youngs, a nine-year-old volunteer.
In one regard, the two gatherings have nothing to do with each other. Hill Side North volunteers clean up a different Troy neighborhood each month and had settled on the area around 9th and Rensselaer Streets weeks before McMillan was shot.
Yet, group organizers say something as simple as cleaning up trash can curb smaller crimes like vandalism before they grow into more serious offenses.
"It's not just about litter, I really don't think so,” volunteer Clarie Pitts said. “I think cleaning up the litter and make people feel prouder to live here."
Commonly referred to as the "broken window theory," volunteers are well aware that changing attitudes by cleaning up streets won't bring back McMillan, nor will it lead police to his killer. However, they're confident it can uplift a community and prevent future tragedies.
"You can't hide, you have to be out here and let people know that there's more happening in the neighborhood than violence," Mazor said.
"I'm hoping that will make it so if there's a kid standing on a stoop, he doesn't have to be worried about getting shot," Pitts.