UNION —The only way to end the violence plaguing Union County and the rest of the world is for people to learn how to arm themselves with love rather than guns, a local minister told participants in an anti-violence walk/rally on Saturday.
The “Walk against Crime … Stop the Violence” walk/rally was originally scheduled to be held in the spring of 2013, but organizers moved it up to Saturday in response to two shooting incidents in August, including one that left a teenager dead and another man wounded.
Saturday’s event was sponsored by Urban Achievement for Youth Education, the Action Network for Union County, the Jonesville-based Men of Action, and the Urban League of the Upstate. The walk portion began at 10 a.m. when 155 people assembled at the old Sims High School building on Sims Drive and marched through the streets of the Chambertown and surrounding areas of Union, periodically chanting “Stop the Violence … Increase the Peace.” The march ended at the Union County Courthouse where several speakers addressed the crowd about violence and what they and the community can do to address it and related issues.
Among those speaking was Dr. Corinthian Stacks, pastor of Bethany AME Church in Union and an employee of the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia, who pointed out that the violence that has plagued Union County is not confined to the county. He also spoke of the reversal of what used to be the natural order of life and death that has taken place because of this violence.
“The violence that took place here is taking place all over this country, it’s taking place all over the world,” Stacks said. “There’s been a reversal because where it used to be the young who buried the old, today very many of the young are being buried by the old.”
Stacks attributed the violence and the reversal to the failure of many parents to be parents to their children and to the loss of community involvement in the raising of children.
“What are parents doing that their children might not get caught up in these atrocious situations?” Stacks asked. “One of the biggest problems today is that parents are trying to be their children’s friend. You cannot be their friend, you must be their parents. Somebody’s got to be the parent because if not children will run the road to damnation and failure.”
Stacks said the erosion of neighborhood/community involvement in the raising of children has also played a role in the violence that is plaguing the community and the world.
“We’ve fallen from what kept us,” Stacks said. “When I was growing up, the neighborhood could raise me, too. When we lose what kept us up, the devil will destroy us.”
Stacks said that without parents who act as parents and a neighborhood that is committed to and involved in their upbringing, the youth of the community “are still going to be raising hell with each other. They’re still going to be killing each other.”
To stop this, Stacks urged parents and the community to get involved with teaching children the right way to live and to do so without fear.
“There is no need to be scared,” Stacks said. “Teach our children the right things, teach ourselves the right things and the guns will go away. The guns will not be needed because all will be armed with love.”
Several participants in the march/rally carried signs with anti-violence messages, among them Gloria Jones, Dakota Rice, and Jonnica Lindsay, the grandmother, cousin, and aunt, respectively, of Dequan Jones.
Jones, 17, was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Lukesville Road area of Buffalo on Aug. 12. Four men — Chadrick Harold Johnson, Devonta Elemeshion Mobley, Daveus Lamonte Boler, and Danny Ray Gossett — are charged with murder in Jones’ death. The four are currently being held in the Union County Jail.
Stacks discussed Jones’ death, the loss his family is dealing with and the possibility that his friends might seek revenge in his name. He urged those considering such a course of action to reject vengeance in favor of reconciliation. Stacks called on those thinking about revenge to reach out to the families of the men charged in Jones’ death. He said they too have suffered a loss and he urged those who loved Jones to reach out to them in love.
“There are some who loved Dequan who are plotting to get them back,” Stacks said. “If you want to get them back, stop the violence. Go to their families and tell them you love them.”
Stacks pointed out that a society armed with love rather than guns, is a society where the streets are truly safe.
“We are called out to love one another,” Stacks said. “When we do, then the streets will be a place where you don’t have to look over your shoulder and carry a gun.”
Stacks also spoke about gangs and offered youth thinking about joining a gang some advice.
“If you want to be in a gang, let it be for Jesus Christ,” Stacks said.