Local Churches Unite to Bring Peace

Violent Assaults Prompt Unity in S.W.

A small boy wearing a red-hooded jacket led southwest residents in the drizzling rain. A flock of umbrellas followed behind his faint drum beat in silence. Ward 6 residents and community leaders united to remember the recent victims of violent crimes and to demonstrate the need for peace in this southwest Waterfront neighborhood.

The community march, organized by local churches, started at the King-Greenleaf RecCenter on First Street — the site of one of the violent incidents.

The small flame from residents’ candles fought against the wind to stay lit. Despite the cold weather, residents, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, church leaders and Councilman Tommy Wells continued to march.

“Enough is enough,” Faith Harris said. “I believe that there is hope. We can’t give up on our children. We need to step in and help.”

Since September, there has been a recent spike in group robberies and assaults by teens looking for credit cards, cash, or cell phones.

The one-hour march turned down a popular ally between a set of row homes – a common backyard for crime. After passing a tree-turned-memorial site, the drums stopped. Angela Venable, Roman Hamilton, and Reverend Ruth Hamilton lit five tea candles in remembrance of 21-year-old James Hill.

There’s no easy solution. But Lenwood Coleman said youth programs could combat crime. Coleman said the RecCenter is a “nice point of interest,” but the youth need more.

“There needs to be programs that can deter some of the violence we are seeing,” Coleman said. “We are going to need to work together as a community to hopefully bring these things about.”

Wells said the community’s unity demonstrates that they are “serious about safety in the neighborhood.”

“I think it’s clear that the neighborhood believes that there’s been far too much violence,” Wells said.

Despite these events, residents still have hope for their community and plan to unite more often.

“Don’t let a crime have to happen for us to get together,” Mattie Callaham said.

The march ended on Sixth Street where 56-year-old Mark Kenneth Blank was assaulted earlier this month. He died later from head injuries.

In prayer, Reverend William Harrison, pastor of Second Union Baptist Church asked everyone to continue to pray for the grieving families and the community.

“We offer spiritual encouragement to those who have lost loved ones,” he said. “And we want to intervene to bring the violence to a halt.”