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10 Point Coalition calls for an end to the violence

Date: 11/3/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Reacting to the recent spate of violent crime in the city, members of the 10 Point Coalition assembled on the steps of City Hall on Thursday to announce a march against violence on Nov. 14, a city-wide day of prayer on Nov. 22 and a call for parents to have greater participation in the lives of their children.

City Councilor Kateri Walsh, the chair of the 10 Point Coalition, called the meeting.

Myeshia Hannans, the president of the football booster club at the High School of Commerce, proposed the march on Nov. 14. The march will begin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 14 from the McDonald's restaurant in Mason Square and will proceed down State Street to City Hall when there will be a program of speakers. The event will run until 1:30 p.m.

"Violence always enters our lives abruptly; this is an opportunity to come together and make a stand as a community," Hannans wrote in a letter to the group.

Walsh said the clergy in the coalition are trying forge relationships with young people in order to "to help break the code of silence" that surrounds much the gang-related crime in the city.

The Rev. Paula Alexander, the interim director of the Council of Churches, said, "Our young people are killing one another and we have to do something about it ... No more talk -- the community most come together and do something."

Mayor Domenic Sarno noted the various efforts to prevent youth from falling into gangs and said that in the long run these preventative programs will win out.

Timothy Paul, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the International Communion of the Holy Christian Orthodox Church, said that members of the coalition have met with the families of the victims of violence and said that clergy members have asked their congregations and parishes to be "eyes on the street," reporting information to the police to help prevent more violence.

Paul cautioned, though, the march and day of prayer efforts will be "fruitless if we don't follow up with taking action."

City Councilor Bud Williams echoed Paul's remarks by recalling how he and members of the clergy developed relationships that allowed them to close down crack houses in the 1980s.

"We not only have to pray, but take these prayers and put them to work," Williams said.

City Councilor James Ferrera added, "Parents have got to step up and take a role in their kids' lives."

Bishop Timothy McDonnell noted, "The death by violence of anyone diminishes us all."