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Stop the Violence Rally

  • Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jim Tatum/JournalScene Spencer Williams of Summerville holds pictures of family members killed by violence. Williams says he has started an anti-violence group, Victims of Violence.

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Despite the heat and humidity, hundreds turned out Saturday to call for an end to violence and show support for area victims of violence.

‘Unity in the Community’ is one of a number of initiatives being made by the Community Resource Center in Summerville to end the senseless violence that is plaguing the community and snuffing out too many young lives, organizers said.

Some 15 young people from throughout the tri-county area have been killed in violent altercations over the past several years. Many of the victims were just bystanders, people at the wrong place at the wrong time, said Community Resource Center Executive Director Louis Smith.

But whatever the circumstances, the fact is, they were all sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of grieving families – and the problem looms large and permeates all of the community, Smith said.

“Mothers have lost their children,” Smith said. “These mothers have been robbed, these families have been robbed, these children have been robbed. We have to work together and stop these funerals. We need to end this cycle now.”

Saturday’s rally, held in Summerville’s Wassamassaw Park, was a step in the right direction. Despite the heat and humidity, the event was well attended, positive, and effective, Community Resource Center CEO Janie Colleton said.

“It was a great event,” said. “The weather was very hot, so we didn’t do much of a march, but the turnout was strong – we had people from all over – even out of state. I am proud of what we accomplished and I’m especially proud of these mothers, these families, who got involved.”

But rallies and events are not the only initiatives the Community Resource Center is supporting. One important initiative will be establishing a scholarship, Smith said.

A number of family members and friends of area victims of violence gathered June 19 to show support, to call for an end to the violence, and to announce plans to establish a scholarship in memory of their lost loved ones.

Family and friends took the opportunity to talk about their lost loved ones and how the epidemic of violence touches so many.

“The families are victims every day,” Heather Rice said. Rice lost her son, Donte Pringle, to a shooting in Charleston; his murder has never been solved, she said.

“It’s so hard because there’s no closure,” she said. “They had a suspect and they held him for eight months, then all of a sudden all charges are dropped because of a lack of evidence. We can’t get anyone to call us back. And his killer gets away with it.”

Tamika Myers, whose daughter Sierra Denise Truesdale died in a shooting at a club where she was celebrating her birthday, said she hoped the rally and other efforts like it — especially the scholarship — would help bring awareness and ultimately unity to the community. The violence does not just affect a few; it affects everyone from all walks of life, she said.

“When they kill someone, they don’t just devastate the family, they devastate the community,” Myers said. “This has to end – that one act of violence effects everyone – all communities. I refuse to let her death be in vain.”

Janet Colleton, who lost her brother Carl Huger in a shooting in James Island in 1986, said that too many of these killings simply go unsolved. Her brother’s killer was caught and ultimately sent to prison, but his loss still hurts. Because she intimately understands the pain and loss such a tragic event causes, she feels a special compulsion to work with the families.

“This center is my passion – we need to work together to stop this violence,” she said. “We need to keep these children busy and active – and out of trouble.”

Colleton noted that while those who did support the rally – area churches, biker clubs, pastors, and civic organizations – were very generous with time and resources, she felt some disappointment from other area businesses and vendors who did not.

“We need everyone’s help,” she said. “We are a non-profit working hard for the community – it’s not like we’re not doing anything. But we need more support from the community, especially the business community.”

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