Community looks to curb violence with night walks

04/16/2013 6:04 PM

04/16/2013 6:06 PM

A program designed to provide relief to high-crime areas is underway.

An hour-long training session has been set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sound Life Church at 927 W. Main St. for the CeaseFire program, where participants join clergy to walk through neighborhoods with high crime rates to empower the community to curtail criminal activity.

After the training, a neighborhood walk will start at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Merced County Administration Building at 2222 M St. Participants should wear white T-shirts.

This will be the fourth CeaseFire walk, according to a news release from Mike Conway, assistant to the city manager. Anyone who participates in one of the walks is required to go through a training session.

The CeaseFire program started as part of the Boston Project where clergy and their followers walked through neighborhoods with high crime to talk with residents and others in the area, according to Conway. The purpose of the walks is to open a dialogue with neighbors and offer them information and access to services the might need.

The Rev. Don Ramsey, a volunteer with the nonprofit Merced Organizing Project, spearheaded the effort to bring the “night walks” to Merced. The walks are a major component of the CeaseFire program.

“You said when you moved here, you were going to plant your roots, raise your kids and support this community?” he told the Sun-Star in February. “Well, you support it in the good times, and you support it in the bad times.”

-- Sun-Star staff

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