Anti-violence rally marches through Youngstown led by community activists

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Many community leaders have attempted to stand up to violence. On Sunday, some community activists marched through Youngstown’s south side trying to influence others to do the same and bring peace.

The anti-violence rally called Take Back the Hood started at noon in Youngstown. It was held in collaboration with United Returning Citizens. The rally was also streamed live.

Those attending were aware there had been another shooting in Youngstown Sunday afternoon.

“But everything starts with a footstep. Every journey starts with a footstep,” said William Miller, a community activist.

And that’s how the day started with Miller, whose journey began on the corner of Warren Avenue and Hillman Street.

“The first time I sold drugs was right on this corner, and so I felt like it was appropriate that when I really started to do something about my community in a positive way, I started on the very corner that I helped tear it up,” Miller said.

After spending 26 years in jail, Miller started an organization called R.E.S.P.E.C.T. It stands for Reaching Everyday Solutions Positively and Encouraging Community Togetherness.

Miller was joined with another member from his past who used to sell drugs with him, Darnell Walker, another community activist.

“Now, we’re trying to use our experience in the streets, in prison, to try curb people from going that route that we went,” Walker said.

On Sunday, they wanted to reach younger people. They took to social media to get their attention.

“And the reality is that the people we really need to reach, they’re not going to be walking with us, but the people who they know will be walking with us. That’s the reason for the live stream,” Miller said.

And even though this is just one event, the hope is a snowball effect will help make a bigger impact.

“So, it’s not going to take overnight for us to get where we want to be, but it’s one seed at a time. One event at a time, one helping a person out at a time, one grass cut at a time,” said Dionne Dowdy of United Returning Citizens.

Once they left the corner of Warren and Hillman, the group made their way to Oak Hill Collaborative where they gave the chance for anyone to speak.

Aleesha Bell, the mother of Charles Allen, the man who died in the Utopia Night Club shooting, stood up, asking for anyone to come forward who knows about her son’s death.

“Just like, you would want for your relative, for your loved one, you need to come forward ’cause I want justice for my son,” Bell said.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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