Stop the Violence activists speak out
The youth of Chase City was in focus at Saturday’s “Stop the Violence” Concert held at the Robert E. Lee building. Dispersed throughout the auditorium in Chase City sat members of the community who came out to hear the message of the Stop Violence movement activists.
The night was filled with local artists’ music/spoken word and insight into what the community can do to decrease the violence in Chase City, a community that has experienced two murders within the last six months.
Concert organizer Quinton Watson, one of the leaders for the Stop the Violence movement, kicked off the event by explaining to the crowd why he gathered everyone there. He said the Stop the Violence movement is meant to build community awareness of the violence that has been happening in Chase City and to move the community to do its part in preventing future incidents.
Watson said he wants the Chase City community to do everything it can to better the town without needing to call in a proposed gang unit. He said, “It isn’t gang violence, it is a bunch of wannabe kids that are getting into trouble.”
Take care of the youth in Chase City and a decrease in violence will follow, according to Watson.
The Stop the Violence movement wants to target the youth of the community, but the change needs to start with the adults first. Every speaker agreed it is the responsibility of the adults in the Chase City community to take a stand.
Bernard Duncan, one of the speakers and a respected member of the Chase City community, said, “If you know something, but you don’t say anything, you are a part of the problem. As a child, you stay in your place, as a juvenile, you stay in your place. But as an adult, you take your place.”
According to the supporters of the Stop the Violence movement, the solution depends on the actions of every community member, not just a few.
“This ain’t a white problem, this ain’t a black problem, this is a problem,” Watson said to emphasize the need for total community involvement to make a difference.
Watson said the Chase City community needs to work together as a whole to push the youth into believing in themselves and being motivated to achieve their goals, no matter how big.
Dwight Ashe, advocate for Stop the Violence and owner/operator of Save Our Future, spoke from experience on the little support he has received from outside sources to assist in his mission of making Chase City a better home for families.
He said, “Save Our Future is my job title, but better yet it is our job title.”
He said he has been working with the youth in Chase City for years trying to give them an alternative to roaming the streets, and all he has received from Chase City is a pat on the back or a “good job.” He said encouragement is great, but it takes more than that to make a change.
Ashe said everyone in the community needs to come together so that the problems can be tackled one at a time.
“You don’t have a right to complain until you have done everything you can to change it,” he said.
Another guest speaker, Cornell Russell, pushed the youth to attend local government events and learn more about how their town is managed. He reminded everyone of the Chase City Town council meeting Monday March 13 and said, “Come out, be seen, be heard.”
Deborah DeSantis, a member of the Chase City Special Events Committee, took the stage and also encouraged everyone to participate in local government. She said the youth of the community need something to do, and the special events committee is trying to provide opportunities, but they need more support and input.
“If we all work together we can make it happen”, DeSantis said.
Derrick Bowers, advocate for the Stop the Violence movement, finished by saying the movement will continue to host events and will not stop until they get the support of the entire community and a change is seen in Chase City.