Delaware Church site of rally to end local violence
By Gary Morton
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Underneath a tableau depicting Mary at the foot of the cross bearing her dying son Jesus, Jackie Latson tearfully urged about 110 men gathered at St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington, Delaware last Saturday to take back the streets and stop the violence that left her son dead.

"My son was killed five years ago," she said through her tears. "Why is it that about 50 people have been killed [in Wilmington] since? It’s not getting better; it’s getting worse. I’m begging you to stand up."

Her plea came at the start of a rally called the "1,000 Man Call to Consciousness and Action Program." Organizers said they hope to transform dangerous city streets by approaching, with a smile and a handshake.

"We hope to befriend the people on the corners, and we want to recruit them to be peacekeepers themselves," said Father Mike Tyson, associate pastor at St. Paul’s and an organizer of the rally.

He would like to see Catholics more involved in such activities, citing the two great commandments to love God and to love neighbor. "If we just do the work in the temple (honoring God) and not in the street, then we’re only doing half the commandment."

The area around St. Paul’s has had its share of violence. Two people were shot several blocks from the church at Fourth and Jackson streets, the day before the rally. Both were hospitalized. And two men shot to death at a Newport storage unit June 9 were from St. Paul’s, Father Tyson noted.

While the meeting was held at St. Paul’s, the group supersedes racial and religious lines; whites, blacks and Hispanics of different faiths participated, including 15 to 20 from St. Paul’s.

Some of the organizers have experienced the violence firsthand. A brother of Norman Mercado, 59, a St. Paul’s parishioner, was killed about 25 years ago, he said. About a year afterward, Mercado said he and six others were shot after an altercation with a motorcycle gang, but all survived.

"I’ve seen so many young guys getting shot, getting killed," said Mercado. "It’s time to do something."

Dennis Muhammad of Houston, who has helped to organize groups whose members call themselves "peacekeepers" in five other cities, explained that the key is to share "a small word called love," he said. "We will not stop until we can guarantee the safety of our ladies, our children and our elderly."

Members began their push this week in four sections of the city. Each week they plan to return to the same areas to greet the young people they find. "These young men need some guidance and direction," said Deacon Donald Benn, 48, of New Calvary Baptist Church, another organizer and father of three. "I feel a need to do something."

The group’s action comes too late to help Latson’s son, Hakim Crawford, who was shot to death at Seventh and Jackson streets on April 16, 2004. While weary of seeing so

many others injured or slain in street violence, she continues to press a message of nonviolence. She even forgave Dwaynne Staats, the man who killed her son, "because that’s what God called me to do. I don’t believe in violence. I don’t believe in the death penalty."

Staats is serving a life sentence.

Latson’s talk came the day before Hakim would have turned 37.

"I want to hold him again but I can’t," said Latson, who was pregnant with Hakim when she moved to Wilmington from North Carolina. "This is a pain that cannot be healed."

Printed with permission from The Dialog, newspaper for the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea

Liturgical Calendar

December 18, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 23: 5-8
Gospel:: Mt 1: 18-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27