CHADBOURN, N.C. (WECT) – A group of nonprofits, churches, and businesses, known as Unite Chadbourn, held their first event Friday at a Columbus County church — a march aimed to stop the violence.
The group was formed after a mass shooting on Broadway Street in July left three people dead, however, organizers aim to tackle the violence the small town has seen for years.
One of the march organizers is Dr. Timothy Lance, pastor of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Whiteville.
Lance has never met a stranger. He waves at each passerby on South Wilkes Street, and cars passing Chadbourn’s First Baptist Church honk a friendly hello when they see him.
It’s rare that you catch Lance without a full suit on, but he says he’s taken to wearing t-shirts to send a message. The one he picked out to wear Friday morning was designed by a past student and features four hands holding one another and reads “I am my brother’s keeper.”
The crime that kicked off Unite Chadbourn was personal for Lance, because he knew the young woman killed, Kameesha Daezhneka Powell.
“I believe that incident was just the point where many people said ‘enough is enough, we need to do something,’” Lance said.
He explains the group’s formula for making change is “REAL.” The letter “R” stands for responsibility, “E” for education, “A” for accountability, and “L” for love.
“There’s crime everywhere, but not everywhere is doing what’s happening here right now. Not everywhere have you got people on Zoom meetings, have you got people from inside the community and outside the community wanting to come in and help stop the crime,” said Chadbourn mayor Mayor Phillip Britt.
Since the shooting, the town has passed measures to install cameras to deter crime and bolster their police force, but the mayor says support from the entire community is critical to make lasting change.
”We are hoping that we can share with people in this community, in other communities, that number one, we’re responsible for our community… responsible for bringing change. If it’s going to be, it’s up to us,” said Lance.
Dozens of community members, neighbors, faith leaders, police officers and town officials showed up to Friday night’s Stop the Violence March. It opened in prayer, and featured speakers that shared their vision for the town, and their hopes for the next generation, and family members who remembered victims of recent gun violence, like Kameesha Powell.
The group walked from the church to the scene of the Broadway Street shooting, where they prayed for their community, singing during the walk.
Planning for the group’s next event is already underway. Lance says a two-day community revival will be held in early October.
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