Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Unity in the Community, a rally calling for an end to violence plaguing Lowcountry communities, will be held this Saturday, June 21 starting at 11 a.m. at Wassamassaw Park, near Baum Temple AME Church in Summerville.
The rally is part of an ongoing effort by the Community Resource Center in Summerville to end the rising epidemic of violence that is taking so many young people’s lives, said Executive Director Louis Smith.
But it’s about more than that, Smith added.
“We are giving these families a chance to have their voices heard as well as bring awareness to the community,” he said. “We need, as a community to stop this not talking to the police and instead we need to start talking to the police. With all these unsolved murders, someone has to know some information. It’s time for someone to step up.”
The rally will also serve the important function of remembering the victims, he said.
Most importantly, the rally will serve to illustrate the far-reaching losses caused by these senseless acts of violence, he said.
A number of community organizations, car clubs, and bike clubs will participate in support of the rally, Smith said.
One issue families of the victims are finding difficult to accept is the media coverage of these events. Too often, they say, the focus is placed on criminal records, lifestyles, bad choices. While in too many cases these aspects of the victims’ lives are true, the important fact to note is that whatever their flaws, these are still children of grieving parents who now have no chance – zero – to turn their lives around, noted Melody McFadden of Summerville. Worse, those who did not have criminal records and were living good lives and planning bright futures are becoming lost in the spin cycle.
McFadden lost her niece, Sandy Patrice Geddis Barnwell, in a shooting in North Myrtle Beach last month. She was a bystander, a person tragically caught up at the wrong place and the wrong time in an event not at all of her making, McFadden said.
“We’ve been frustrated with the focus on some of the young men’s records, but they have hardly said anything about Sandy, who was not involved in the situation that led up to the shooting and did not have a criminal record at all. That, to me, is absolutely insane – this is a young woman, a caring, loving, responsible young woman with a bright future -- who has lost her life and has no future now just because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They went to Myrtle Beach and thought they were coming home — and she’s not. We want people to think about that — her life is over because of random, senseless violence – and that makes it even more painful.”
“We absolutely want to talk to people about it because we sincerely want the violence to stop,” McFadden added. “We want to get to the youth and get some mentoring programs in place in Sandy’s memory. We need to get information out to the youth before they pick up guns so they have an idea what kind of an impact they have on the lives of people who love these kids.”
McFadden also noted that while Barnwell was standing near De Vonte Dantzler and Jamie Williams, the two young men who were also shot in the same incident, she did not come with them to the event; she happened to know them, stopped to talk to them, and was standing nearby when the shooting started. Barnwell had actually come to the event with her cousins, who had left temporarily to get something to eat. In fact, the police detective working the case has assured the family that Barnwell was absolutely not involved in the confrontation that led to the shooting, McFadden said.
“We don’t want Sandy constantly grouped with this rap sheet thing and crimes because that’s not who she is and that’s not what happened,” McFadden said.
“She was not involved – just caught in random violence, which is even more painful to our family.”
In addition to the three who died in the Myrtle Beach shooting, the rally will serve to remember others from the tri-county area who have lost their lives to violence, including Ariel Morgan, John Hancock, Ricardo Middleton, Carl Huger, Donte Pringle, and Sierra Denise Truesdale.
The rally will be from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. in Wassamassaw Park in Summerville. A march is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will start near Baum Temple AME Church in Summerville. For more information call 879-9508