Having a hand in opposing violence Rally small, but backers laud wide representation

November 24, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Their spirit was boundless, but fewer than 100 faithful joined hands across half of a city block during yesterday's ninth Love Hands Across Baltimore Crusade.

Rally organizers -- who annually envision thousands locking hands for six miles between Milton Avenue on the east and Hilton Street on the west -- were undaunted by the turnout, meant to show solidarity against violence on Baltimore's streets.

The Rev. Willie Ray, chairman and founder of Save Another Youth Inc., and the Rev. Arnold Howard, president of SAY Inc. and minister of Enon Baptist Church in Baltimore, spearheaded the effort to elicit church, community and government support against violence. They insisted that they saw signs of hope -- not a lack of it -- and that made the rally successful.

"The real significance is that we have gotten leadership involved," said Ray, noting attendance by representatives of the governor, mayor, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, City Council, police, housing, courts and churches at the rally in the 200 block of E. North Ave. in the shadow of city school headquarters.

The keynote speaker, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, told the gathering that "something is crooked" in Baltimore when crime is declining but children are being gunned down in the streets.

"Something is crooked when we can see [cocaine] and heroin being sold on our street corners, but the police can't find the dealers; where a school principal can do what is right in suspending so many [students], and school administrators fail to back her up," he said, referring to recent problems at Northern High School.

He exhorted ralliers to adopt the battle cry from the 1976 movie "Network" -- "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

"Only when people see there is a better way [through nonviolence], can we make straight that which is crooked," Reid said.

Church and community leaders must get people out from behind locked doors, from their comfort zone in homes and churches and talk about what "we can do, not what we can't do," he said.

For Northwest Baltimore resident Jimmy Hagler and his fiancee, Denise Reid -- who is not related to the pastor -- the rally was a chance to let their actions speak.

"We've got to bring an end to tragic violence," Hagler said. "Baltimore is a beautiful city, and the violence clouds it up."

His fiancee said she attended a women's seminar in the summer and learned that it is better to try to make a difference than sit back, waiting for others to effect change.

Pub Date: 11/24/97

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