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Suburbs Join City In March Against Violence

April 3, 2006
By KEN BYRON, Courant Staff Writer

A march aimed at getting suburban peace activists concerned about violence in Hartford drew about 70 people, which organizers said was an encouraging start for an effort to bring city and suburban residents together to address poverty and violence.

Most of the participants in Sunday's march through neighborhoods in the city's North End were white and from suburban Hartford towns. Organizers said that was the intent of the march.

"I was trying to get people from outside of Hartford to come because up until now they have not been involved in the issues here," said the Rev. Cornell Lewis, a co-organizer of the march.

The participants stopped at several locations where shootings have occurred over the past couple of years, including Elizabeth Grocery on Nelson Street, where two of the store's workers were killed in an attempted robbery in January.

Marchers passed out fliers to residents along the route, but there were relatively few people who came out to watch them pass. Nevertheless, organizers said they were happy with the results.

"I was pleased with the turnout we had and with the energy and enthusiasm of the people who marched," said Frank O'Gorman of West Hartford. A member of the group People of Faith, O'Gorman said he wanted to help organize the march after hearing Lewis speak about conditions in the North End at a March meeting sponsored by Center City Churches.

Mayor Eddie Perez addressed the crowd before the march began, saying he was happy to see people from outside Hartford take an interest in the problems afflicting the city.

"I thank all of you because you are here to make a public statement about what we need to do to stop the violence," he told the demonstrators.

Many who showed up are involved with church and social action groups, such as City Center Churches, the Greater Hartford Interfaith Coalition for Equity and Justice and West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice. Participants said those groups have put most of their energy toward protesting the war in Iraq, but also need to focus on street violence in Hartford.

"It seems unrealistic to say we need to end the violence in Iraq but then not be worried about the violence in the North End," said Terry Davis, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Hartford.

The march focused entirely on incidents that occurred in the North End and the shootings that happened at stops along the way. But organizers said afterward that they plan to pursue a detailed agenda with measures aimed at helping to stop the violence.

O'Gorman said the key is getting the state to do things that would reduce the poverty in Hartford. "To stop violence we have to stop poverty," he said.

O'Gorman said the things organizers would like to see include a youth employment program and an urban economic development program. He said those are things the state could do to help Hartford.

"The state is running a surplus and we should use that money to help people," he said.

O'Gorman and Lewis said organizers will talk about Sunday's march and brainstorm more ideas for getting suburban residents interested in violence in the North End.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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