Clairton community groups to take stand against violence
Clairton churches, officials and organizations are coming together on Saturday to take a stand against violence.
Participants in a Community Walk Against Violence and Murder will meet at noon at Neil C. Brown Stadium along Miller Avenue to pray for the community.
The walk starts at 1 p.m. at the stadium and continues to Miller Avenue's intersection with Park Avenue. A rally will take place along Miller between Park and Wilson avenues.
Pastor Leroy Thompson of Dream Christian Center led a prayer for the event on Wednesday morning while holding hands with other community members.
“People will be able to speak out (about) the loved ones that they lost (to violence) and talk about what their family went through,” Thompson said.
“It makes it so important for us because we've been dealing with this for a while,” he said. “We've been dealing with funerals of young men, young women, and we're tired of it. I think the community itself is just tired and wants to see change, wants to see transformation. That's what makes it very important for us ... This is a march not just for any particular church or any particular person. This is something for everyone. We're opening it up to the whole community.”
Pastor Willie Thompson of Morning Star Baptist Church said, “We feel it's not just our responsibility as community partners or citizens of Clairton, but it's also our duty as Christians to do the works of Jesus. To liberate the oppressed, to inform people about the weight and burden that violence puts on communities. To try to somehow encourage them and inspire them to do differently, to act differently, to be differently ... We're in the community together. We live together. We're all here for each other, and I think that this rally provides an opportunity and avenue to finally touch one another. Not be deep. Not be overly spiritual, but just to be in tune with what our neighbors are going through as a community.”
Willie Thompson said, with churches, businesses and city officials coming together, it should be a great experience. “We're just happy to play a small part in it and to be able to encourage people that there's a different way. It's a nonviolent way that we can make resolution to the things that we're facing.”
Councilman Richard Ford lauded the churches for “coming outside of the walls” and doing something that includes the entire community.
“I thought it was a thing that's really, really necessary,” Ford said. “I have been trying to include the churches in everything that we do ... I don't really see the great changes coming through the city government. I see the changes coming through the combination of the spiritual side as well as the government side.
“I think it's very important that we come together to surround and help the churches in everything they want to do. Togetherness is where we'll make this change.”
Clairton City School District director Gloria Ruffing said she brought a letter to the district and invited officials and other school board members to the walk.
“We all have to get it together,” Ruffing said. “They agreed with what we're trying to do and I'm sure they're going to participate in this march. I'm going to be there, and I'm on the school board.”
One homicide has occurred in Clairton this year. Terrance Moore, 34, of Clairton was fatally shot in connection with an incident on March 26 outside a residence at 361 Halcomb Ave.
Christian Deandre Riley, 20, of Clairton is awaiting formal arraignment this month on charges of theft by unlawful taking, firearms not to be carried without a license, receiving stolen property, aggravated assault, conspiracy and recklessly endangering another person in connection with the incident. Charges of attempted homicide were withdrawn in May.
Riley is Moore's cousin, and so far is the only person charged. He was apprehended while attempting to drive Moore to a hospital.
Clairton police responded to four assaults and six domestic violence calls in May, according to police reports.
Police Chief Rob Hoffman said officers have responded to about the same number of violent crimes compared to last year at this point.
Others involved in planning Saturday's event include Lenora Graves, Sheila Thompson, Sherry Epps, Wandra Sparks, Lisa Garrett-Woodson and the Rev. William Callaway of Mt. Olive First Baptist Church.
Participants are encouraged to wear red clothing to symbolize those lost to violence. More information on the walk is available by calling 412-945-0853.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.