06/19/07 — Leaders emphasize need to continue anti-violence push

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Leaders emphasize need to continue anti-violence push

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 19, 2007 1:45 PM

Sylvia Barnes remembers when Goldsboro residents could sit on their front porches in the evening -- a time before the gangs, curbside drug deals and drive-by shootings she says are now overwhelming the city.

She and many others long to get back to those days.

The Goldsboro/Wayne County NAACP president was one of more than a dozen black community leaders on hand at Monday's City Council meeting who called on the elected body to join the fight against violence.

"We can stop all this violence," Mrs. Barnes said. "We can stop all these killings, all the drugs on the street."

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NAACP's state conference, asked council members to support the Stop the Funeral campaign, a movement spurred by the April 22 murder of 23-year-old Raheim Kornegay and the April 26 murder of Sharon Sheppard, a 28-year-old mother of four.

"We believe something very powerful is happening in this city," Barber said.

More than 30 local churches have already teamed with NAACP for the purposes of educating and offering redemption to the city's youths, holding prayer sessions and fasts and renouncing violence whenever possible, he added.

Apostle and funeral home proprietor Donnie McIntyre said he knows all too well that fear and death are clouding neighborhoods around the city, having prepared "too many" young people for their own funerals.

"It really has become a burden, the unnecessary deaths I see every day," he told the council.

So along with Barber, Mrs. Barnes and others, McIntyre said he will reach out to community leaders and the children themselves -- any and everyone from all faiths and neighborhoods-- to promote a life without drugs and guns.

The problem goes beyond race and religion, he said.

Valerie Melvin agreed.

"This is not a black thing," she said. "When you have gang members and drug dealers in your community, it's an everybody thing."

Barber said if the movement changes one gang member, one criminal, he would feel successful.

"If we redeem one, it makes so much difference," he said.

Mayor Al King thanked the group for attending the meeting, speaking -- even singing -- and wished them well in their efforts, offering to help in whatever way he can.

"I see terrible things happening out there," he said. "If there's a group that can do (something to stop it), you will get it done. I'm really excited about what you're doing."