One of the students who organized the upcoming Children’s March Against Gun Violence and for Mentors said Wednesday he and others his age are committed to changing the city’s image.
“This is the first step to ending gun violence,” William Fells III, a member of the ICVR (Interested Citizens for Voter Registration) King Team said during a press conference to promote the march.
The march will begin at the Jefferson County Courthouse at 1 pm. Saturday, and continue to the civic center where a short program will be presented.
Citing published statistics that have listed Pine Bluff as one of the most dangerous areas in the nation, and one of the most impoverished, Fells said “this city has more than crime.
“Pine Bluff is not a weak city and we are united and ready to fight for it,” Fells said.
Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said studies have shown that 46 million people are exposed to violence, crime and abuse annually.
“Recognizing the facts is the first step to implementing a strategy,” she said. “As city leaders, parents, and grandparents we need to all come together, set aside our differences and focus on what’s really important and that’s our children.”
Interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks said the march, and the search for adult mentors to provide a positive influence on children “matches our approach of community oriented policing.”
Juvenile Court Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr. said he is in his fifth year in office and is seeing more incidents involving juveniles and guns.
Brown said the march and other efforts will empower “young people not to use guns to solve problems.”
Also speaking was Jefferson County Judge Dutch King. who said the easy access to guns is not just a problem in Pine Bluff but nationwide.
“We’ve got to do something to solve it or step by step, it’s going to destroy our nation,” King said.
Other speakers included Sheriff’s Department Major Lafayette Woods Jr., Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell, the Rev. Steven King, Deputy Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Rudolph Howard, Pine Blufff School Board President Piccola Washington and the Rev. Jesse Turner, coordinator of ICVR.