Walk to protest violence

Published 12:02 am Friday, October 28, 2011

Natchez — Residents have the opportunity to march together in the streets of Natchez in protest of violence in the city in Saturday’s Walk Against Violence.

The walk is being hosted by the Natchez branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Women in the NAACP.

WIN Chairperson Jacqueline Marsaw said the walk is a response to the recent violence in the city. Five murders have occurred in Natchez this year.

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Marsaw, who lost her brother, Ricky, to gun violence in 1992, said the organizations are trying to get the message out to young people that running to guns to solve problems is not the answer.

Marsaw said violence not only affects both the victim and the shooter but the families as well.

“That is someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son,” she said.

Marsaw said families of victims of violence are asked to come out to the walk and honor their loved ones by wearing a T-shirt with the victim’s name or picture on it.

“I know we won’t reach everybody,” Marsaw said. “But if we can just reach one or two, hopefully someone will listen.”

Larry Hooper, NAACP youth coordinator, said the ultimate goal is to go well beyond the march.

“We have to go into the community,” he said. “Too many mothers have cried, too many children are walking around with their parents incarcerated.”

Hooper said his focus as youth coordinator will be building the city youth’s character and education.

“We’re going to stress the importance of their education, stress the importance of being law-abiding citizens and being respectful of others and themselves,” he said.

Hooper also said neighborhood watches and forming partnerships between community organizations, law enforcement and churches is essential to curbing crime.

Phillip West, NAACP project coordinator for the event, said he believes the walk is a good way to make the community aware that violence does not need to continue.

The march is just the first step and a launching pad, West said, to other steps the NAACP wants to take for a hands-on approach in the community to target young people and reshape their attitudes in a positive way.

“Our message to young people is, ‘We don’t want you to commit a violent act or crime, and we’re going to show you how we’re concerned about your condition and your future,” he said.

The walk will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Zion Chapel parking lot on Jefferson Street and end at the lot across from the building that formerly housed The Brick House club on Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

For more information about the walk, contact Marsaw at 601-443-3630.