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Community walk aimed at stopping violence

Organizers of a local walk to end violence hope their efforts to raise community awareness of the issue can help unite the city to end the recent rash of violence it has experienced.

“A lot of violence has happened, and the community is talking,” said Christine Bass, vice president of the Restored Life Ministries’ Guardian Angels group. The group is holding Saturday’s “Stop The Violence” walk and program beginning at 11 a.m. at Restored Life Ministries church, 1117 Innisfallen Ave. “We hope to make more people aware that we all need to come together as a community to help solve this problem of violence.”

The church group holds a Domestic Violence Awareness program each year. This year’s third anniversary will focus on all violence, especially in light of the recent events that have happened in the community, Restored Life Pastor Larry Coleman said.

The event will begin with many prayers, Coleman said, including a prayer to support the Springfield Police Division and its success in fighting violence. Springfield Police Division Chief Stephen Moody said he, his staff and the police officers who serve the community are humbled by the support offered by Restored Life Ministries and other groups.

“Although it’s not as easy for me or other men and women in our organization to show it, they are appreciative of those thoughts,” Moody said.

Between May 25-30, there were five shootings in Springfield, with the final shooting resulting in the death of 20-year-old George Walker Jr. Moody said police continue to investigate the shootings and no suspects have been determined.

Thursday afternoon Tyrin Hawkins, 17, of Springfield pleaded not guilty to murder during his arraignment in a Clark County Common Pleas courtroom. He was indicted Monday by a Clark County Grand Jury in the shooting death of 17-year-old Jeff Wellington. Hawkins remains booked in the Clark County Jail on $500,000 bond.

The walk and following program will focus on these acts of violence, Coleman said. The event is open to the public, and organizers said they are especially seeking to engage the youth of the Springfield community, who Coleman believes are most at risk with the recent string of shootings in the city.

“The younger crowd are impacted the most and we hope they come to stand up to the violence and say ‘we’re tired of it and we’re not going to tolerate it,’ ” Coleman said.

Mary Dill of Springfield lost her son Dovon Williams to violence in 2011 and said she will be part of Saturday’s events to support the community. Williams and his friend, Arbrie Smith, were gunned down at the intersection of West Perrin Avenue and Center Street in Springfield.

She said the recent shootings happening in Springfield anger her, and she hopes Saturday’s events will spark a conversation about why the violence needs to end.

“The whole city needs to be angry, needs to light a fire in us,” Dill said. “It’s time to start talking and time to start doing something.”

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