Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Opportunity for Civic Engagement in Newark

Friends of Shalom:

Read the article below from Tuesday's Star Ledger on the Peace and Solidarity March in Newark this Sunday afternoon, November 30th, in the aftermath of a new wave of street violence in the city and about the need for hope and peace.

My family and others from Drew and the burbs will join our friends in Newark in an simple ministry of presence solidarity--to stand and march with those in the city that want to call attention to the need to engage gang culture more positively, help shape a more productive police response, and reduce youth violence, drugs and guns.

The march will begin after church at 1:30am at City Hall. We will walk down to Lincoln Park and attend a rally from 2pm till about 4pm. Attached is the flier circulated by Integrity House and the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace--of which Communities of Shalom is a part.

Hope to see you there!

Michael

The Star Ledger
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Newark activists sensing a moment
They plan a march to increase solidarity


BY JONATHAN SCHUPPE, Star-Ledger Staff

In Newark, community leaders often talk about "moments" -- points in time when certain events make the city ripe for activism. The event may be a violent crime, political upheaval or problem with the way the city operates.

All three have happened in recent weeks, they say. The violence was a string of shootings one afternoon last month that left four people wounded and two dead. The political upheaval was the election of Barack Obama. And the problem is a lack of coordination among the city's various social service agencies that aim to help the homeless, the jobless, the hungry and troubled children.

Community leaders are pouncing on this moment by planning a large march and rally that they hope will bring more than 1,000 people downtown Sunday. Organizers are calling it "Solidarity Sunday" with the goal to develop a common agenda for religious leaders, government officials and social service agencies.

"Now's a good time to stop sit ting in our living rooms or offices or churches ... and look at how we can bring unity to the community so no one person is left holding the bag," said the Rev. Darlene Reynolds, one of the event's organizers. "We have to find a way to make a commitment to working with each other."

Marchers will gather at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, then walk down Broad Street to Lincoln Park for a rally from 2 to 4 p.m. Community leaders will give short speeches about what they think needs to be done.

"The main mission on the 30th is to bring people together with answers and solutions instead of complaints and 'what can someone else do,'" said Dave Kerr, president of the Newark drug-rehab clinic Integrity House. "This is a solidarity movement. We haven't really done anything like this before."

The idea grew from monthly breakfast meetings of religious leaders and social service agencies called "Bridge to Recovery," in which participants worked to come up with a seamless net of care for the needy residents, from hungry children to ex-convicts.

Then came the shootings of Oct. 24, which jarred the city and, despite a steep drop in gun violence this year, dredged up old images of Newark's Wild West disorder. When Obama was elected a few weeks later, many Newarkers, particularly black residents, said they felt more optimistic about the country's future.

Organizers of the march and rally are trying to marshal those feelings into something more permanent -- and tangible. Kerr said he'd like to start with a plan for improved "pastoral care response," mentoring programs and "re-entry" services for people returning home from prison.

The Rev. William Howard of Bethany Baptist Church said he's has noticed "a new spirit of civic engagement" since the presidential election, and he hopes the march and rally will keep that momentum going.

"Nov. 30 could be one of the many manifestations of people in our city showing a commitment to a spirit of unity, of purpose, of civic engagement, of forward movement, of healing," Howard said.

Jonathan Schuppe may be reached at jschuppe@starledger.com