Community leaders address gun violence in Savannah with a march and vigil

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Community and faith leaders are calling for action as lay judges pledge to use American Rescue Plan funds to empower disadvantaged neighborhoods

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The newly established group The Weeping Time CoalitionMade up largely of community and faith leaders and concerned residents, held its first event Thursday evening to raise awareness of the Weeping Time Grounds and a recent mass shooting in Savannah.

Speakers during the event called for a number of measures – primarily to preserve the property of The Weeping Time, site of the largest single sale by enslaved people in American history, and to better monitor and allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan to the community. oriented programs.

The debate:The Weeping Time, a Homeless Shelter, and a Depraved Neighborhood: How Conflicting Passions Created a Great Savannah Controversy

“When someone suffers, we all suffer,” said Rev. Leonard Small of the Litway Missionary Baptist Church, referring to the victims of last week’s mass shootings. “It’s not ‘them’, it’s ‘us’.”

“We are the descendants of The Weeping Time,” said Small, who along with other speakers emphasized the unity.

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The event, titled “Current Crime and Weeping Time,” consisted of about 30 people marching from the Weeping Time marker to the Jasper Springs marker. Attendees included Councilor Kesha Gibson-Carter, Councilor Alicia Miller-Blakely, Savannah NAACP President Chad Mance, and supporters of the nonprofit Hello Neighbor.

Small and Pastor Larry J. Gordon of Solomon Temple Church of God in Christ led the event with passionate speeches that touched on police issues such as transparency and community engagement. They booked the night with an urge to rent The Weeping Time’s property at 2305 Augusta Ave. a memorial rather than a shelter for the homeless.

The Salvation Army plans to set up a transitional facility on the site.

More: “Ruined Homes, Shattered Hopes, and Broken Hearts:” An 1859 Report on The Weeping Time

Gibson-Carter spoke about the crime situation in Savannah in general.

“We are essentially in a state of crisis in our city. … We have had multiple shootings and murders in our community. Now we are faced with increasing violence and persecution of officials, ”she said. “Our church is not healthy. … We just have a sick Savannah.”

Gibson-Carter also mentioned the investigation into the death of William Zachery Harvey in custody, which resulted in the firing of five Savannah Police Department officers.

More: Savannah police chief Roy Minter says discharged officers have failed to follow guidelines

Gibson-Carter and Miller-Blakely supported the demands of the Weeping Time Coalition that night, which also provided funding for the American Rescue Plan for the redesign of the Program to End Gun Violence, Reinstating the Police Sports League (PALS), a mentoring program for retired police officers for road patrol, extending community center hours and programming, and engaging the community in vulnerable neighborhoods by providing resources for evening programming.

The group also called for The Weeping Time property to be kept zoning as a residential area and pledged to take the necessary steps to make it a landmark cataloged on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We will take it to our fellow councilors and I will ask them to give a positive opinion on this request as we are able to receive $ 57 million from our federal government through the American Rescue (Plan) Fund.” said Gibson-Carter.

Shillinda Theogene, a Savannah resident and a member of the Solomon Temple Church of God in Christ, said she received support because of recent events and because she believes more needs to be done for minority communities, especially black neighborhoods.

Crime “has to stop,” she said, “it just has to. And I think the best way to end it is to create an environment where we can come together, build something for our community, where the children are the community can feel safe. “

“A lot of us don’t have the environment to help us grow … We’re too busy trying to survive.”

Theogene, originally from Miami, said she saw the same things around the neighborhoods.

“We need to build a community where we can learn to just enjoy and live so people don’t focus so much on just surviving and hurting each other,” Theogene said.

Nancy Guan is the general reporter for the Chatham County wards. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @nancyguann.



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