STEUBENVILLE - The Rev. Everett Mitchell believes a march for "peace and love" in the city's LaBelle neighborhood made a difference Monday evening.
"It started getting dark earlier and then the rain started and I was worried, But the rain stopped, the sun came out and this march was awesome," the pastor of Tower of Power Church on Maryland Avenue said.
"We started showing the community tonight that we are strong. We do care about our community and we will stand up for the families of the victims of violence. It was really good to see so many people here today. And we will march again next Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Mount Zion Baptist Church on North Seventh Street. We will march every week to encourage peace and love," Mitchell stated.
CARING FOR COMMUNITY — Dawud Abdullah of B.A.S.I.C. Circle, center, led approximately 125 people out of the Tower of Power Church Monday evening for a march to bring peace and love back to the city. The participants gathered at Pizza Pie Park before returning to the church. Abdullah said another march is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Mount Zion Baptist Church on North Seventh Street. -- Dave Gossett
Approximately 125 people marched from the Tower of Power Church to Pizza Pie Park, and after hearing from several speakers, marched on Pittsburgh Street back to the church.
"Someone is driving by right now with vengeance and hatred in their heart. But they see us and they are saying they better not do anything tonight. You made a difference tonight because you came out of your comfort zone. And we will continue to come out because we don't want to wait until its our son or our daughter who has been harmed by violence," Mitchell said at the Pizza Pie Park gathering.
Marge Radakovich, principal of Garfield East Elementary joined the march, "because we have all been saying we should do something. We are doing something tonight."
Mayor Domenick Mucci told the marchers they were sending a message Monday night.
"You are apostles of Jesus Christ tonight. Keep working like this and we will take back our streets," Mucci stated.
"Now is the time to put your feet in the street. Now is the time to make a difference," noted Ruth Snell of the Tower of Power Church.
The Rev. Norries Hood of the Mount Zion Baptist Church quoted from the Bible and said he was praying the community will start to come together.
"God is the God of life and not death," intoned Hood.
"People have choices they can make. They don't have to choose the violence or drugs. If I can help anyone, I will go anywhere at anytime," noted evangelist Clarissa Speaker.
"Our goal is to bring love and peace back to the hood. This is the first of many marches and events. The goal here is to have everyone stay connected. Its not just African-Americans, it's everyone. We are all connected in one way or another," said Dawud Abdullah, president of the Brothers and Sisters Intelligensia Crew.
"We're not going to make noise. We want to bring love and peace to the streets. This was a powerful march tonight. I didn't expect this many people to be here. And we are all encouraged by this march," Abdullah said.
Michael Jett of Steubenville Made announced a Kids Fest will be held from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. on April 21 at the Millsop Community Center.
"There will be swimming, movies, fellowship and finally what we are calling a rap seminar on violence. It is free and open to the youth of our community," Jett said.
And Austin McKenzie displayed T-shirts reading, "Wakeup Steubenville. When you take the life of a man you don't just kill that man. You also kill the mother and the family behind that man. Thou shalt not kill."
"There is a lot of violence in our community and a lot of people would like to see a change. That's why I made these shirts," said McKenzie.
The march was organized by Abdullah, Mitchell and the Rev. JoElla Williams, pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church, in response to recent incidents of violence in the city.
"This is the first of what will be several walks, but the symbolism of this walk sends a bigger message. We see all the violence and funerals, we want to send the message there are good people who want more peace and love in the neighborhood," remarked Abdullah.
Abdullah urged the marchers to not criticize anyone using drugs.
"We are not drug counselors or the police. We want to send a message to those kids that we love them all, and we want to see change," said Abdullah.