WARREN - In response to violence in the city, residents gathered at the Warren Community Amphitheatre Sunday to listen to community leaders offer their thoughts and solutions to end the violence.
Dubbed "Pray for Peace, Stop the Hate and Violence," the event included a school supply giveaway, free food and games for kids.
Miriam Fife, who lost her son to a violent death more than 20 years ago, read the names of 28 people who have been killed in the past two years.
"Twenty-eight names, and that's 28 too many," she said.
Three people have been killed in Warren this year, including Zeboney Bess, who was shot in the head and killed July 14 while walking along the 2000 block of Hamilton Street S.W. Trumbull County-wide, there were eight homicides in the month of July.
As Fife read, family members and friends of the deceased gathered with candles burning against the light wind. They also held gold and black balloons and when Fife finished, they released the ballons as about 100 people looked on from the bleachers.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Dan Pompili
Warren G. Harding High School principal Dante Capers speaks Sunday about education and family involvement as a means to combat violence at the “Pray for Peace, Stop the Hate and Violence” rally at the Warren Community Amphitheatre.
Residents stepped forward to share their stories and their thoughts on the violence.
Among them was Joe Hughley, uncle of Warren's first violence victim of 2012, Domin'que L. Hugley.
After speaking to the crowd, Hughley said that his family is still suffering from the January slaying of the 21-year old Saratoga Avenue man and events like this one help the healing.
"It means a great deal to the family members that those who died are not going to be forgotten, but there's too much violence going on and it's got to stop," he said.
State Sen. Capri Cafaro was in attendance and said that while the event is a "good start to raise awareness," she'd like to see more people in the stands next time. Cafaro, D-Hubbard, reflected on the city's troubles and the families' woes.
"It's painful to see and painful to watch and it's painful to hear the stories of people who have lost loved ones to senseless violence or tragic accidents," she said.
For many who took the podium, though, the solution was spiritual.
Evangelist Barbara Daniel of Greater Apostolic Faith Church said unequivocally that prayer is the answer and that the community needs to rally behind a faith in God, to find the strength to stand up for itself and make the change that she said starts at home.
"It begins in our homes because too many homes have been ruined because of violence," she said.
Pastor Dan Barker of Cortland Trinity Baptist Church followed and asked everyone to assign prayer leaders to every neighborhood.
"Can you imagine what would happen if every street in Trumbull County had someone praying for it?" he said.
Warren G. Harding HIgh School principal Dante Capers said helping children to focus on education and getting them involved with church groups and extra-curricular activities is another means to curb their interest in the life the street offers.
He shared a conversation he had with someone recently about gang life.
"The person that I was talking with reminded me that many of the young adults that get caught up in a life of gangs, drugs and violence quickly realize that it is not the ideal situation and often long to find a way out," he said.
Fellow speaker, Councilman Eddie Colbert praised the event, but said it can be like preaching to the choir and that it's important for residents to act on what they say and hear at such rallies. He said the city cannot afford for residents to be divided in any way.
"This city doesn't have the money for there to be an eastside, a westside, a northside and a southside. We are the City of Warren and together we will accomplsh more," Colbert, D-7th Ward, said.
Colbert said people ask "why" about many things, but said "why" is a question of blame, that the time for blame is past and it's time for people to begin asking "how."
The event began with a march from Courthouse Square, and was sponsored by the Warren City Committee and by Warren Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold.
"We're not just offering rhetoric today. We're going to be talking about possible solutions to assist people in any way we can so that violence will not be an issue in our area," Saffold, D-6th Ward.