Raising awareness about crime, deaths

WARREN — More than 25 people, including city officials, gathered Friday evening at Quinby Park on Austin Avenue SW for a rally that organizers hope will raise awareness about crime and drug deaths in the city.

Megan Brown, organizer of the Citizens of Warren Awareness Rally, said the city has 39 unsolved homicides, as well as overdose deaths and sex trafficking.

“It is important to raise awareness and get some of these crimes solved. Many lost their lives to senseless gun violence. We need justice for the families,” she said, noting that her cousin, Martel S. Williams, was among those killed.

Brown said crimes and deaths in the city have increased in the past 10 years, including 13 unsolved deaths in 2017, five in 2016, three in 2015, nine in 2014, eight in 2013, five in 2012, five in 2011, four in 2010 and nine in 2009.

Area drug deaths included 135 overdose deaths last year in Trumbull County, with 36 confirmed overdose deaths this year, Brown said.

Brown said there is also concern of missing females and human trafficking.

“Ohio is ranked fifth in the nation for human sex trafficking,” she said.

Brown encouraged residents to be vigilant and have security cameras at their homes.

Pastor Mario Hainesworth of Barnes Temple Church of God in Christ said it is important to be visible in the community.

“I’m big on accountability. It is now time for the churches to run to the people. The police are protecting our city and we as families must be raising our children,” he said.

Pastor Noel Vaughn of New Vision Christian Church said it is important to work together to let people know what has been happening.

Erich Henkel of the Warren Family Mission said the opioid epidemic has hit the area hard.

“We need to take care of the area and not let this epidemic continue to affect us. Get God back into people’s lives,” he said.

Pastor Aaron Johnson of Higher Ground Church in Cleveland said, “You need to be the change your are looking to be. We want to make a change in our communities. We have to make that change we are looking for. Get involved yourself. Continue what you are doing; it is worth it.”

He said the statistics of deaths are a major concern.

“We are losing our families and young people,” he said.

Warren Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold said all communities have problems.

“We came here today to do whatever we are called to do to help. To overcome these issues, we must all come together,” she said.

“There are young people who we have known and been around and now we have to experience this devastating loss that put a city in mourning. We want to see change and bring attention to these situations,” said Pastor Joseph Walker of Restoration Christian Fellowship.