Dozens of Asbury Park residents gathered on Washington Avenue Sept. 16 for a rally, held at the site of recent shootings, in an effort to help stem the tide of violence in the city.
“The guy that killed my son is still walking the streets. I want to get out of here and I feel my city does not care,” said Lavonne Walker, mother of 20-year-old Terrel Howard, who was murdered in August on the exact spot where Monday’s rally was held.
Walker said she fears for her life and that she feels she has no protection.
The rally was held near the Washington Village Apartments- the same spot where Howard was gunned down Aug. 16.
Some residents said they fear the police more than they fear the criminals and that there have been no arrests in most shooting cases.
“Where are the police?” one resident asked.
Penny Dees, whose 12-year-old daughter, Quiana, was murdered 21 years ago, said she is tired of watching children get killed every year in Asbury Park.
“Every year have to add another child to the Quiana Dees Foundation list. I don’t want to keep adding to that list,” she said.
Lifelong resident Laura Henry said she hopes the rally will get people to come together and solve the crime problem in Asbury Park.
“Each one, teach one,” she said.
A special anti-crime march, sponsored by the Stop The Violence Action Committee, will be held Saturday, Sept. 21. Marchers will gather at the Asbury Park Middle School at 11 a.m. with the march scheduled to begin at noon.
The march will visit the sites of various murders committed in the city. Asbury Park has had at least 24 shootings this year, of which four were fatal.
“We will march to each spot where a person has been murdered in Asbury Park and at that spot a different pastor will stand and pray with a member of that family. We will bless that area and then move on to the next area. Everybody is invited to attend,” said Rev. Kevin Nunn, pastor of the Spirit of Truth World Vision Outreach.
“This will take about two hours of your day and the question is whether the life of our children is worth two hours of your day. There is no excuse for you not to be involved. There will be a place for young and old- there will be a place for you,” he said.
The march will end with a final prayer at Deliverance Temple, 504 Prospect Ave.
“We have, as a community, unified ourselves to bring forth this collective response, called the Stop The Violence Action Committee,” Nunn said.
The committee will also urge residents to begin a door-to-door campaign to end violence and seek to alleviate some of the poverty, stress and conflict in the city.
In October, a special Parents Against Community Killings banquet will be held with parents of murdered children from around the state invited to attend. The banquet date of Oct. 21 has been proposed- the date 18-year-old Tylik Pugh was fatally shot in 2006
A rap concert is also being proposed in an attempt to use the arts to have a positive effect on young people in the community.
“We have long discovered within our city that what affects one of us indirectly affects us all, whether you live by the boardwalk or live on Washington Avenue. What is killing up physically is also killing us financially,” Nunn said.