ATLANTIC CITY — The city’s religious community plans to address a recent spate of violence that resulted in the deaths of two teens and one young adult with a leadership training program and a month of prayer.
The two-prong effort is titled “Let’s Stop The Funerals!” and was announced Tuesday evening at Second Baptist Church.
The Rev. R. Fulton Hargrove II, president of the Fellowship of the Church of Atlantic City and vicinity, announced the first prong, 30 days of United Prayer. Hargrove asked all believers to set aside time at noon every day to say “The Lord’s Prayer” and to pray for a different result each time, such as “more agreement,” “more fellowship,” “more harmony” and “less back biting.”
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Wednesday’s prayer, the first of the 30 days, was to ask for “more love.” On Thursday, people are asked to pray for “more unity.”
Hargrove asked the approximately 130 people in attendance to spread the word about the campaign. A revival will be held Aug. 11 at New Hope Baptist Church on Lexington Avenue after the 30 days have concluded.
“It’s praying time,” Hargrove said. “We are asking our Christian community to use our weapon. ... We have the power.”
Two of the killings happened on the same street, North Pennsylvania Avenue, within three days of each other.
The most recent victim, Katusca Robles, 18, was found shot in an apartment July 3 in the 800 block of North Pennsylvania, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. Jordan Reaves, 21, of Pleasantville, was shot and killed June 30 in the 300 block. Reaves was a suspect in a June 27 shooting that injured two bystanders and was also the victim of a shooting Dec. 5, 2018.
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Sixteen-year-old Quran Bazemore was shot June 15 on Arctic Avenue by an assailant who was one year younger than him. He died from his injuries June 25.
Apart from prayer, the Rev. Collins A. Days Sr. spoke Tuesday about a program to reach those between the ages of 14 and 20, who are most prone to violence in the city.
The idea is to have existing nonprofits provide life-skills training for some of the city’s youth, and to pay the teens and young adults for their time. Days estimated he would need $110,000 to $120,000 to make sure dozens of young people received $12.50 an hour.
Besides life skills, the effort would provide the teens with trauma counseling and horse therapy.
“The goal is to have 90 kids by the end of the month and places for them to receive work experience,” Days said.
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The Leadership in Training initiative has already started for this summer with a commitment of at least $20,000, Days said.
“Some of these kids are really leading their own households,” he said.
Those in attendance at Tuesday’s event included police Chief Henry White Jr.; City Council President Marty Small Sr.; Kaleem Shabazz, NAACP Atlantic City chapter president and 3rd Ward councilman; Mike Epps, executive director of the Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office; and police chaplain Odinga Maddox.