07/08/07 — 'Stop the Funeral': Local residents unite against violence

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'Stop the Funeral': Local residents unite against violence

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 8, 2007 2:01 AM

Seven by seven, more than 300 Wayne County residents made their way down the courthouse steps Saturday morning before lining up on Walnut Street behind a police escort and a hearse.

Then, in silence, they marched -- stopping only a few times on Spruce, Charles and William streets.

Saturday's walk was one of many events held as part of 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.

Bishop A.W. Slater was among the crowd.

"This is not a civil rights movement. This is concerned people coming together," he said. "If we come together, we can bring Goldsboro back to where it needs to be."

Sylvia Barnes, president of the Goldsboro-Wayne chapter of the NAACP, said it was time for residents to stand up against gangs and drugs in their neighborhoods.

"What do we want to stop? There is no better time to stop the violence," she said. "It's time to stop the gang-banging, it's time to stop the drugs that are sold on our streets."

Event organizers said it is no longer acceptable to expect law enforcement officers to handle every problem neighbors encounter without help from the citizenry.

The Rev. Dr. Dwight Cannon had a message for the dealers and the gun wielders.

"To those who cause us pain, we say to them, 'We are not afraid,'" he said. "We will take it no more."

So they walked, some with their hands in the air, others waving to the few neighbors out on their porches and sidewalks.

And when they made it back up those courthouse steps, they cried "Hallelujah" in unison.

But Slater told them to be careful not to celebrate a victory that has not yet come.

"This is not the end, but the beginning," he warned.

Apostle Walter Barbour agreed.

"Spiritually, we have torn down some walls today," he said. "But now, we're getting ready to go into the city."

Residents and officials alike have decried the violence that has taken the lives of several young people recently.

Kornegay was first believed to have shot himself. But the State Medical Examiner's Office later determined he did not die of a self-inflicted wound.

His girlfriend, Sheppard, was present at the time of the shooting. She was fatally shot four days later outside McIntyre Funeral Home, where she was attending Kornegay's funeral.