Mount Moriah Baptist Church, a predominantly Black church, and Hill Havurah, a Jewish place of worship, both located in Ward 6 in Northeast Washington D.C. united on Nov. 12 to condemn the gun violence taking place in the ward and the country.
The Rev. Lucius Dalton, senior pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, is working with a Jewish place of worship to stop gun violence. (Courtesy photo)
The Rev. Lucius Dalton, the senior pastor of Mt. Moriah, and Rabbi Hannah Spiro are the respective leaders of the places of worship and want to do something about mounting gun violence in the nation. Following a meeting between the two at Mia’s Coffee Shop a month ago, a prayer vigil, “A Memorial to Lives Taken by Gun Violence” was held.
“Rabbi Hannah and I decided to do this after the Las Vegas shooting,” Dalton told the AFRO. “I know about the relationship that Blacks and Jews have had in this country and we decided to do something about this together. Our congregations have gotten together before and we celebrated God with food and music and so we decided to get together on this.”
Hannah told the AFRO that she shared Dalton’s sentiments. “We are here today because I and Pastor Dalton are concerned about lives lost to gun violence,” she said.
Before the rally, the north fence of Mount Moriah’s parking lot was decorated with 60 white t-shirts with names of people killed with a gun in the District. In the parking lot, where the rally was held, there were tables for anti-violence organizations.
Even though the District recorded 100 homicides as of Nov. 14, which is a 16 percent decrease from the 119 homicides recorded during the same time period in 2016, a majority of those shootings have taken place in Wards 7 and 8 according to D.C. police statistics and reports in the media. While Ward 6 has not experienced as much violence as other wards, D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) spoke at the rally and voiced concerns about homicides.
“I am here to pay tribute to the lives of so many people in the community,” Allen said to the 63 rally attendees. “It is critical that we fight gun violence here in this neighborhood, in the District and across the country. People who died from gun violence make victims of their families and their fellow co-workers.”
Allen said people who have good jobs and access to affordable housing are less likely to commit crime or get involved in homicidal activities.
D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) lives in Ward 6 and attends Hill Havurah. Silverman said the community needs to get more involved in stopping gun violence. “If it was up to me, I would take handguns out of every single person in the country,” she said.
Silverman said she hopes the Mount Moriah-Hill Havurah anti-violence efforts continue. Silverman is a Baltimore native and points out that one of her classmates in high school was Erricka Bridgeford, the leader of the Baltimore Cease Fire effort that called for no homicides for a specified period time in that city.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) said children in the District are traumatized by violence. “There is a survey that says 47 percent of children in the District experience a traumatic event in their lives,” Racine said. “That is far too many. Violence will begat more violence and I am disturbed by kids talking freely about their funerals.”
Denise Krepp is an advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 6B10, the area where the rally took place. Krepp noted there was a shooting at Eastern High School, which is across the street from the rally, in January 2016 in which four people were injured. She also noted there has been gun violence in recent months on 17th & 18th Streets that intersect with “A” Street, S.E.
“This isn’t normal,” Krepp said. “This isn’t right.” Pointing west at the U.S. Capitol, she said “we need to hold those folks 17 blocks away accountable.”
Mae Frazier, a member of Mount Moriah, said she looked forward to a continued partnership with Hill Havurah. “We are here to celebrate the lives that have been lost due to gun violence,” Frazier told the AFRO. “I hope it ends soon because too many young people are dying.”