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Young people lead charge for peace and unity
Decatur Herald and Review ^ | July 16, 2016 | Huey Freeman

Posted on 07/16/2016 5:12:55 AM PDT by Finnwolf

DECATUR – Four days after an incident that had the potential of tearing a town apart, young people from throughout the city gathered together with a positive, hopeful spirit, after a few young leaders decided it is time for a serious change.

“There's individuals out here who have tried to kill each other, and they're united,” said the Rev. Courtney Carson, 34, one of the organizers of the event which drew about 200 people to Hess Park on Friday evening. “There's individuals in this park who would not have spoken to each other a week ago. Now they're speaking to each other. That's real. That's the power of prayer.”

Carson, who organized a rally Monday evening to bring peace to the city following the shooting of a suspect by a police officer earlier that day, said it was remarkable what positive results can follow when preachers unite and pray together.

“When preachers unite, the people unite,” said Carson, a minister at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

Carson credited Aaliyah Buck and Ricko Blaylock, two of the speakers Monday outside the courthouse, for successfully organizing the Friday event, which included full court basketball games with referees, grilled hot dogs and chips and upbeat socializing.

“We planned the event here in three days. We called it unifying the streets in peace and love,” said Buck, 18, a MacArthur High School graduate who plans to attend Richland Community College. “A lot of people here have different gang affiliations: Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, East Side, West Side. Everyone's coming together. No one's angry. Everyone's having a good time. We don't have to be angry. We have to get together.”

Buck said she believes many of the challenges young people have stems from a lack of positive activities in Decatur.

“If you don't have anything positive to do, all they do is negative,” she said.

A Chicago native who moved to Decatur a couple of years ago, Buck said she learned at the charter school she attended that she had a purpose in life.

“They instilled in us we are to be agents of change throughout our life,” she said.

One of her goals is “to promote education and professionalism.

“There's not enough people in our community to exemplify things that need to be done,” said Buck, a two-time student council president at MacArthur and employee at McDonald's restaurant.

Yolaunda Reed, Aaliyah's mother, said she is proud of her daughter, especially for the way she spoke up at the prayer vigil Monday. She said it did disturb her to read negative comments on Facebook in response to Aaliyah's remarks.

After moving here from Chicago, Reed said she has a different perspective about Decatur than those who have always lived here.

“There's so much focus on the negative and the violence. People say this is little Chicago, but it's not,” Reed said. “Next to Chicago, this is like the Garden of Eden. There's so much violence and destruction and death it's nearly impossible to have peace of mind there. It's out of control.”

She said the one shooting incident that occurred Monday in Decatur was “blown out of proportion.

“Everyone was rubbed a little raw because of the other incidents,” she said, referring to the shooting deaths of black men by officers in Minnesota and Louisiana.

Reed said she believed some people were upset because Aaliyah told black men they should read books and pull up their pants, which they perceived to be insults. It upset her to see negative, nasty posts on Facebook about her daughter.

She believes that black people are stereotyped in a negative light, as if they are all from families who have children who are imprisoned, rather than seeing that most families raise positive children.

“God created us equal. But we're not treated equal,” Reed said, adding that won't happen until the unequal treatment is addressed.

Blaylock, 27, said people in Decatur did not react violently to the shooting because “we had it in our mind to stay peaceful and not be violent, like everyone else in the world.”

After being a gang leader and spending most of his life going in and out of prison and jail, Blaylock said he recently took a positive turn, largely thanks to the staff of drug court.

“The change is the way I think about life,” said Blaylock, who now serves as a mentor to young people. At the Friday event he counsels children not to react to negative situations with violence.

He credited prayer with giving him strength and wisdom to speak at Monday's vigil.

“I prayed before I did it for God to lead me,” he said. “I explained all African-Americans are not thugs. Don't stereotype us, just because you see how we dress. The person you see dressed like that may be the next Barack Obama, a doctor or a police officer.

"All lives matter, not just black, not just white, not just Hispanic. I really want to unite my city.”

Bria Hurns, 22, just moved to Decatur from the Chicago area two months ago, but she already feels like she has a purpose: to help young people thrive. She is a member of Life Changers Church and a studying to be a youth minister in the online program of Valor Christian College.

“It is amazing after the situation happened early this week, the youth gained determination to do things for yourself,” said Hurns, who recently landed a job as a sales representative with a phone company store. “I noticed there is a lot of division in Decatur. God is really calling his leaders right now. He is calling his leaders of the youth.”

She credited Blaylock with being a strong leader, respected by young people, who spent tremendous energy running around the city to unite people from different groups.

“At the rally, he said we can't do this without God,” Hurns said. “God has definitely positioned me in the company of the right people, for his glory. I have a heart for inner-city kids. I have a heart for the hood. God is proving himself, that it's possible that things can be done.

"The other day at the rally, to see all those people, with the mayor and the chief of police. It was peaceful and God was in the midst of that, for people to be receptive and ready for change.”

Ed Culp, chief of the Decatur Park District Police, was the only officer who appeared at the event during its first few hours. He kept a low profile, walking through the crowd, greeting people with a cheerful manner.

“I loved the fact that the tone was set earlier in the week down at the courthouse,” Culp said. “We were glad it could continue on such a positive note. (Decatur interim Police) Chief Getz and I have been talking. We were confident in the leadership tonight and that has proven to be true.There is no doubt in my mind that Decatur will make a positive out of the negative.”|(217) 421-6985

TOPICS: Local News
KEYWORDS: decatur; police; response; shooting

1 posted on 07/16/2016 5:12:55 AM PDT by Finnwolf
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To: Finnwolf

Wow, that whole article was just sickening.

2 posted on 07/16/2016 5:26:49 AM PDT by BloodScarletMinnesota
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To: Finnwolf

I'm sick and tired of the msm going wild every time a cop does his duty. The guy (black, pink, purple or green) had what was reported to be a gun, A cop shows up at the scene and the idiot is waving that thing around. What, the cop was supposed to ask him first if it was a bb gun or if it was loaded or had been cleaned and in perfect operating order? Another article said he also had a knife. The moron deserved to be shot. He's not dead so there's no reason for all the clothes ripping and hair pulling and certainly not any reason for vigils. Enough already.

3 posted on 07/16/2016 5:32:01 AM PDT by bgill (From the CDC site, "We don't know how people are infected with Ebola")
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To: Finnwolf

To prevent duplication, please do not alter the published headline, thx.

4 posted on 07/16/2016 5:39:58 AM PDT by Sidebar Moderator
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To: bgill

It’s going to take more than a vigil to achieve peace and unity. One way - JESUS.

5 posted on 07/16/2016 6:05:31 AM PDT by stars & stripes forever (Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Psalm 33:12)
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