Fairfield County Residents Take to the Streets to Stop Violence

Fairfield County marchers show their signs during the Oct. 13 march.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and not just domestic violence should be acknowledged, but violence of all kinds. The 2012 Mayor’s walk was held in Finlay Park this month and a group from Winnsboro in Fairfield County held a similar march of their own at the same time. Violence in the home or gang-related violence leads to the same results, someone in many cases loses their life.

The Winnsboro march, their third, was organized by local pastors such as the Rev. Eddie Woods, Columbia pastors, community leaders and citizens of Fairfield County. They met in a parking lot across from the Fairfield Memorial Hospital at 8 a.m. when the temperature was barely 50 degrees and a strong wind was blowing. Bundled in sweat shirts against the wind, they marched with a two-car police escort to the County Courthouse where Carolyn Bates was the guest speaker. Bates lives in Augusta, Ga. but her son Larry Sanders Jr. was killed in Winnsboro, her reason for driving to Fairfield County for the march. Larry was killed in his home and no arrests have been made.

Like ripples in water, violence continues to spread in our community. Three out of four Americans personally know someone who has been affected in this way. That is 74 percent. It is happening to teens in our community, in the neighborhood and in school. Not all of it is gang related; some is the accidental killing of a person who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is not just teens but also young adults and older citizens. This serious issue can lead to psychological trauma, injury and death. This month was a time set aside for mourning those who have died, a celebration of those who have survived and connecting with those who work to end the violence like the Rev. Woods and others like him. We must raise awareness and remember all who lost their lives. Most of the deaths due to violence occur when the perpetrators are the victims themselves or people close to them, such as parents, partners, siblings and friends.

Violence takes the lives of more than 1.5 million people annually, of which 35 percent is due to homicide, the rest being due to war or conflict of some kind and suicides. The reasons for many of these homicides are poverty, gender inequality and harmful use of alcohol.

While at the march I spoke with Cheryl Weldon, one of the speakers on the steps of the courthouse. She is a sister of the Rev. Woods. Her eldest son Jamie Robertson went missing in the year 2006 and after weeks of searching for him, his remains, the results of violence, were found and the family was able to put him to rest. She often sees young men around town that resemble Jamie and it brings the pain back each time. This was not the last tragedy in this woman’s life; she also lost a second son in the year 2011. Weldon’s youngest son, 18-year-old Rodrickous Woods, was shot in the chest and killed as he was leaving a parking lot after a party with friends. He died in the hospital. The accused was locked up for only one day and then released. “This case is still open,” Weldon said.

She and her brother, the Rev. Woods, also lost a brother to a violent act. He was killed in his yard following an argument with someone he knew, when he was asked to leave his property.

Violence is preventable, and on Oct. 13 Fairfield County took to the street to let us know.

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