(delawareonline.com)– Wilmington residents played, prayed and even partied at a Saturday gathering aimed at battling the city’s worsening gun violence.
The event, the War Cry Gospel Concert, was started three years ago as a way for Wilmington residents to get together, get to know one another and share ideas on what they could do about the violence.
Third annual anti-violence War Cry Gospel Concert at Wilmington’s Prices Park (Brown-Burton Winchester Park). Jason Minto/The News Journal/USA TODAY
“We can’t just do it piece by piece,” said Michelle Booker, who along with her husband, Mahkieb Booker, organized the 3-year-old event. “If all of us can collectively come out, then we can work together better and better the city of Wilmington.”
Saturday’s event in Wilmington’s Brown-Burton Winchester Park (also known as Prices Park) started a little later than scheduled, thanks in part to passing showers. But once it began, the park was filed with the smell of grilled meats, laughter of children playing and the sweet sounds of gospel music.
Shirley Harper had just gotten off the bus with her 5-year-old cousin, Daniya Fisher, when a man told her about the free event. Not wanting to be inside the house on the partly sunny afternoon, Harper allowed her cousin to play with other children in an inflatable bounce house that organizers provided.
“This is something positive, and we didn’t have to sit in the house,” Harper said.
Kevin Kelley, director of Wilmington’s Parks and Recreation, was at the event setting tables. The former city councilman said the concert was an example of people gathering to find solutions to the city’s violence.
The concert comes during one of Wilmington’s most violent years. So far this year, 110 people have been shot, 20 of them fatally. Two men were shot earlier Saturday in the city’s Hilltop neighborhood. The men were reported to be in stable condition, according to police.
While lawmakers, city leaders and community members need much to do to reduce the violence, Mahkieb Booker said he wanted to bring God into people’s hearts and minds.
“I don’t believe man can do this without God,” he said.
Mahkieb Booker, founder of Delaware’s Black Lives Matter movement, added that drawing people to different efforts across the city helps in sharing people’s ideas in hopes of a solution.
“No one has the one answer to all this madness in the city of Wilmington,” he said. “I believe if we close the fist, the punch to the impact will be stronger.”
Lynette Shorts Kornegay, a Wilmington author and poet in attendance Saturday, said the division in the city was keeping them from doing more.
“Everybody is doing a little something,” she said. “But everybody being divided [ends up with] divided we stand, divided we fall.
“We need to be united and bring that love back into the community because right now we don’t have it.”
Esteban Parra , The News Journal