NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Racial Justice Network held a press conference Friday, along with mothers of victims of gun violence to talk about a new crime initiative that’s working to put an end to gun violence in the Lowcountry.
Local activists are taking a stand against gun violence.
“We are sick and tired of the crime in the community,” Elder James Johnson, president of the Racial Justice Network, said.
Andrea Manigault’s son, Marion Grice, was killed in the A-1 Food Store parking lot in North Charleston last November. She says her son was an bystander.
“Somebody mistook him for somebody else and shot him dead,” Manigault said. “He was an innocent victim; didn’t have anything to do with anything that was going on. He was not in the streets, he was a good boy.”
The Racial Justice Network says they recently learned the store has a history of crime. Now, they want the store, and other businesses like it, shut down.
“There are too many businesses in this area that have become blights for the community,” attorney Danny Dalton said. “They’ve become hotbeds of crime. The police are very familiar with these properties; they’ve talked to the owners of the properties. They’ve encouraged them to take at least minimal steps to try to clean it up and when they don’t do so, they’re going to be held accountable.
And to combat crime further, the civil rights organization wants to develop a crime prevention task force.
“We can go ahead and develop a community-based effort,” Racial Justice Network field director Howard Comen said. “The police department cannot do this unless the community gets behind it.”
The organization’s main concern is finding out where the guns are coming from.
“If we can erase some of the guns that’s coming in the community,” Johnson said. “We can stop the killings.”
They believe significant change can be made, if the community comes together.
“It’s going to take a unified and concerted effort of all the people,” Pastor Alfonso Riley said. “Not just the police department, not just the clergy, but everyone. I’m talking men, boy, women and children for us to come together as one body and make a difference.”
The Racial Justice Network will host a crime summit in April. More details for that event will be provided at a later date.