An NAACP official has demanded the governor of Pennsylvania call out the National Guard, suspend civil liberties and impose martial law to deal with a recent wave of shootings.
Stanley Lawson, president of the Harrisburg Chapter of the NAACP, urged Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell deploy the National Guard for at least one month and enforce a curfew after more than a dozen shootings rocked the city, according to the Patriot News.
Many of the shots were fired during daylight hours, and one man was killed at a busy intersection in the middle of the afternoon June 24.
"The Guard is for floods and natural disasters. I don't know any more of a natural disaster than of our young people being killed," he said at a June meeting at Capitol Presbyterian Church.
"It's time for some real action," he said. "Right now the important thing is to stop this madness."
"We're beyond what the Harrisburg police department can do. We need help," Lawson said.
According to the report, Lawson referenced the 1968 race riots following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tenn. And the subsequent deployment of National Guard troops.
Rather than drugs, robberies and gang activity, Lawson said the shootings were most likely due to fear.
"The young men, it's fear, it's just fear," he said. "They think: 'I'm going to get them before they get me.'"
But Gov. Rendell's office told WND calling out the National Guard and imposing martial law – a system where military rule overrides civil law in times of war or emergency – is not an option.
"That action is not currently on the table," said spokesman Chuck Ardo. "The governor has ordered the state police to increase patrols in the City of Harrisburg and to work with the city police in whatever way they deem necessary."
Harrisburg Chapter NAACP President Stanley Lawson did not respond to WND's requests for follow-up and comment about the governor's refusal to impose martial law.
In addition to bringing in support from state police, the city stepped up law enforcement presence, and the mayor asked officers to work overtime.
Members of the "Guardian Angels," unarmed civilians trained in self-defense, came from York to help Harrisburg residents create their own civilian force, the Patriot News reported.
Police officers have also rounded up many citizens with outstanding warrants.
Ardo told WND conditions have improved since Lawson initially requested a National Guard presence but that part of the problem lies in the number of firearms on the streets.
"The situation seems to be much more calm at the moment," he said. "Given the number of guns on the streets and violence that seems to follow, there are continued concerns."
Attorney Stanley Mitchell told the Patriot News that the local NAACP chapter is asking for a short suspension of some civil rights, but he added: "We have the civil rights not to be shot."