SOUTH SIDE Group walks to oppose city violence

Participants walked past the parking lot where a teen was shot to death.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Bouts of rain and an overcast day might have decreased the number of participants in Saturday's community prayer walk on the South Side, but the message was anything but watered down.
As cars honked and people came with curious expressions to the doorways of their homes and businesses, organizer Patti Billet and her companions paused to explain why they were traipsing through the rain.
"The violence," Billet would say. "It's just time for the community to take a stand and say we're not going to take it."
The group of about 10 people walked a deliberate route through the South Side, including a pass by the parking lot of Krakusy Hall on South Avenue.
Jermaine Reynolds, 18, was shot and killed in that lot July 17, one of the city's 25 homicides this year.
About 10 people spent part of Saturday walking through the South Side carrying signs to oppose the string of violence plaguing the city this summer.
The group included two mayoral candidates and two board of education candidates, but campaigning was prohibited during the walk. Instead, they said they were joining together to stop the violence.
Taking back the streets
"I think as a community, if we can join together, maybe we can stop some of the violence," Billet said. "These are our streets, and we're taking them back."
Billet had hoped to get at least 40 participants, the number of people who showed up for her first prayer walk Aug. 6 on the East Side.
Darlene Edwards was one of the 40 who showed up at the first walk, which was held in honor of her 18-year-old son, Deandre. He was fatally shot June 29 on Grandview Avenue.
Though she couldn't attend Saturday's walk due to illness, Edwards said she will participate in future community walks and spread a message of nonviolence.
Edwards' nephew, Jumal Edwards, is accused of shooting at police in another summer occurrence in retaliation for his cousin's death, according to some accounts. But Edwards wants people to know that she doesn't condone violence, even from family members.
"Right now I have no mercy for my nephew," she said, noting that she's focused on preventing more children from taking the same route.
Billet said she was inspired by Edwards' concern for the safety of other children.
"That woman has gone through so much," Billet said. "And do you know what this woman is worried about? She's worried about the other kids in the city."
Edwards said she hopes that area residents, especially the younger generations, recognize the effects of violence and take the lesson to heart.
"Maybe it will soak through some of these young boys' heads that the violence is not what we need," she said.
And maybe the violence will stop so that more children don't have to live without a parent, she said.
But, she added, her son's two infants won't be so lucky.

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