WKBW STUDIOS, Buffalo, NY (WKBW-TV)
Pastor Darius Pridgen of the True Bethel Church stopped in to deliver his message on the violence this weekend with anchor Patrick Taney. Pridgen said the community "knows who the person is" and "must stand up to violence and speak out"...his words to the shooter in this weekend's violence..."Turn yourself in before it's too late"
Also, Randy Sargent of Cheektowaga is no stranger to taking a public stand against senseless violence and stopped by the Channel 7 studios to unveil his plans with reporter John Borsa.
Three years ago, Sargent fasted for a week at East Delavan and Courtland avenues to protest the killings of two teenagers who died on that corner. They were both bystanders caught in a gang-war crossfire.
On Aug. 28, he plans to launch a 600-mile walk from City Hall to the nation’s capital in an effort to raise the profile of those two young men and dozens of other local homicide victims and their families. It will take about a month, Sargent said of his trek, which was planned well before Saturday morning’s killings of four and the woundings of four others outside the City Grill downtown. But the shootings give added impetus to his mission.
“It just reinforces the cry from our community that we need help,” he said Sunday. “I’m trying to encourage uplift and unite our community to come together to be a voice for all the homicide victims, and to “call upon our nation’s leaders to be more involved in trying to help stop the killings in our community,” he added.
Sargent, a Congress Street resident, is the father of a 9-year-old daughter. Though he is employed as a bill collector, he also has a clothing line called “Stop Killing Clothing.” The clothing is sold in local clothing outlets.
Recently, he said, Stop the Violence Foundation provided more than $500 to help fund his journey, which will take him on a path from Western New York to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and, finally, Washington, D. C.
For each mile along the way, Sargent said, he intends to plant a small footprint on a wooden stick with the name of a local homicide victim on it, as well as names from around the country.
To that list, he will now add the names of Saturday’s victims: Danyell Mackin, 30, a former Buffalo man who had been living in Texas and returned to Buffalo with his wife to have a wedding party; Tiffany Wilhite, 32, of Buffalo; Shawn-Tia McNeil, 27, of Buffalo and Tiffany Wilhite’s cousin; and Willie McCaa III, 26, of Buffalo.
“I’ve got close to 600 names right now. I plan on having enough names for the entire trip, plus more,” he said.
Sargent has been soliciting victims’ names through a Facebook account he has at www.facebook.com/voicesofhomicide and via Twitter.
“The names are a symbol of the collective death, pain, loss and mourning of our community, and I’ll be exchanging that pain for life, change and hope in Washington, D. C.,” Sargent said. Once in Washington, he said,
He will speak at the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims on Sept. 25 at the National Press Club, and he hopes to be a “loud enough voice that someone in the White House will have to respond to me.”
He is a member of Messianic Missionary Church on Potomac Avenue and said his religious faith compels him to take on the mission he has chosen, even though he has not lost a loved to violence. He said he has worked with victims’ families. “I’m a believer in Christ, and, basically, one of his biggest commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself. What that means is to take their pain, their suffering, their social injustices and make them our own. That’s what inspires me to do what I’m doing,” he said.
EWN will follow his progress and have full reports on his walk.