Eugene Grant

Seat Pleasant, Md. Mayor Eugene Grant (Courtesy Photo)

The rise in homicides in Prince George’s County has provoked Mayor Eugene Grant of Seat Pleasant, Maryland to initiate a “Stop the Violence” campaign. The campaign began with a march Jan. 18 to promote nonviolence.

From 2014 to 2015, the county saw a 36 percent increase in homicides, enduring another homicide at the start of the New Year. “We have to remember Dr. King’s principal point of nonviolence in this country, because there is a retreat in values, Grant said. “Everywhere you turn there is violence. It’s like a disease. We have to do something to change the way we are thinking.” The increase comes at time when homicides are on the rise in nearby Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.

After the march, participants attended a panel discussion at The City of Praise Church in Landover, Maryland on topics that included violence risk factors, resources for those being abused or dealing with violence, and anger management. “In 2016, I want to be able to say that we made a significant dent in stopping violence,” Grant said. “By culture America has become more violent and it is time to bring everyone together.”

Panelists included Jerome Schiele, dean of Professional Studies at Bowie State University; Kevin Washington, president, The Association of Black Psychologists; Lisa M. Cullins, director of child and adolescent psychiatry, Michelle Balamani, founder of Baraka Counseling Services, and Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka, president of the D.C. Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists.

“One major reason for the increase in violence in our community and nation stems from destitute families, children feeling alone, looking for family in unhealthy social settings,” Cullins during the panel the discussion.

Participants at both events included local county residents, educators, members of the Washington Redskins, the faith-based community, law enforcement, and political leaders such as Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Grant said he plans to implement seminars discussing nonviolence, hold meditation sessions and anger management courses at churches, libraries, and other local venues.

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