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“The work never ends”: Stop the Violence committees continue their efforts

By Jessica Coates
jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Light shone into the conference room past large, white sheets of paper, which hung in the windows that surrounded the 25 or so people that had come for Saturday’s Stop the Violence summit.

Each of the eight sheets of paper represented a group’s goals in addressing one of the eight Stop the Violence objectives.

Those objectives are: mitigating violent crime; civic engagement; economic progress; fair, safe and affordable housing; community stewardship; community succession planning; conciliatory racial and social justice initiatives; and environmental stewardship.

Citizens of Salisbury – and even members of surrounding communities – came to the summit with the hopes of finding practical solutions to stem Salisbury’s high rates of crime and violence.

One of those community members – Effrainguan Muhammad – came from Winston-Salem as a representative from the Nation of Islam.

In the last four years, Muhammad’s mosque started a series of crime prevention measures that he said have helped stop some violence in his community.

“These are preventative measures to say, before that neighborhood beef gets out of hand, let us come in and mediate the situation and you’ll find, in our mediation we find out that the beefs that sometimes lead to senseless shootings and killings are over a Facebook post,” Muhammad said. “Senseless waste of life over things that could have been settled by someone that the community trusts.”

Muhammad said one of the ways they have built community trust is through an anonymous hotline called “Squash the Beef.”

“It’s a 1-800 number; it’s no police involvement. These are the kinds of things (to) prevent the need from a law enforcement (official) getting involved,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad said that his mosque could provide training for the conflict resolution skills that would be needed to start such a program in Salisbury.

Much of the rest of the meeting involved attendees listening to committee leaders talk about the progress that their groups had been made since the last summit, which was held June 3.

“Really, the committees are supposed to be working nonstop. So they already formed their own little connection and they’re actually working behind the scenes in the Stop the Violence summits, so when we come together (we get) a report on what the committees are doing behind the scenes,” said Regina Dancy, one of the leaders of Women for Community Justice, which has been the main sponsor for every Stop the Violence summit.

She said the ultimate goal of Saturday’s summit was to get committees to finalize their objectives to the point where Women for Community Justice could organize an informational event for the Salisbury community at large.

“(We want to) share with them what the various committees have been working on, the progress that they’ve made. And then hopefully it will spur and encourage other community members to want to get involved as well,” Dancy said.

That informational event will be held in late September and will be open to the public.

But Dancy said that the September informational meeting won’t mark the end of the Stop the Violence summits. In fact, Dancy said that she sees no end in sight.

“Until the violence is stopped, there’s always going to be work to be done. And I think that so often where we as a community fail each other is that, once we begin to see progress, we think that the work ends there. But the work never ends,” Dancy said.

Saturday marked the fifth Stop the Violence summit. It was hosted at Hood Theological Seminary, located at 1810 Lutheran Synod Drive.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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