Statesville residents march against crime and violence
BY HALEY JONES
Concerned Statesville residents gathered Saturday morning at the Christian Outreach building and marched in unity to The Bentley Center to raise awareness of recent crime in the area.
Many attended in shirts bearing the phrase “We are All One in Peace against the Violence,” while others accepted a bracelet from Statesville Citizens Activist Network (CAN), an activist group that organized the walk.
“It’s a great day to build community,” said Mayor Costi Kutteh, who met with participants at the Christian Outreach building and walked the entire route. “We must realize we are all one in peace. We have to work together to build that peace and have trust in one another to find peace.”
Organizers of the walk include Statesville native Priscilla Lowe and Pastor Virginia Byers. The pair hopes to bring citizens of Statesville and the surrounding areas together to support of one another and to bring attention to the community’s crime and violence.
“I would like to see Statesville (as a whole) look like a welcoming place for people to come,” Lowe said. “We want to stand against all (the) violence that is happening around us. It is time for change.”
Lowe explained that Statesville should be seen as a whole and leaders should work to attract well-paying jobs to the entire area. Desired changes include the demolition and revitalization of abandoned and dilapidated properties in the southside and the development of a safe place for residents to have fun or enjoy themselves.
“People are scared and closing their doors, their hearts, and even turning their heads to what's going on around here,” Lowe said. She spoke of how some people may not see the need for the revitalization of the southside because they are not close to the problem and therefore it doesn’t affect them.
That message resonated with many who participated in the march, especially those who have been personally affected by crime in the area. Marshall Allen, Founder of NC 4 Shared Parenting, was present at the walk to raise awareness of the causes of crime.
NC 4 Shared Parenting is an advocacy group in support of the shared, meaningful contact given by both parents to a child. The group advocates that this mutual support from both parents should be continued after a separation or divorce, in the form of shared parenting.
“This violence in the streets is from children without a mother or a father,” Allen said. “Drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy, crime – it’s all created from a majority of children who don’t have the support they need. Children need a mom and a dad.”
Allen then became emotional.
“My daughter was a pawn in the mess,” Allen said, recalling the loss of his daughter, which inspired him to start the advocacy group.
Several challengers in the upcoming city elections and current members of the city council were present at the walk. Statesville police officers also participated to show their support for the citizens of Statesville.
“The Statesville Police Department is always looking for opportunities to improve communication with the communities we serve,” said Assistant Chief Kenny Cornelison, one of the participants. “It takes the combined efforts of police developing relationships with citizens, and those citizens coming forward with information to help solve crimes.”
• Statesville CAN: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1658449604392523/
• NC 4 Shared Parenting: https://www.facebook.com/NC4SP/