"Pray that the violence stops," said pastor John Fitzpatrick of One Love Ministries. "That families get united, division stops, that we can come together and unify, one to another. We're excited about what's gonna happen in Durham!"
Fitzpatrick organized the prayer walk, which began at Durham police headquarters. The group walked to CCB Plaza, Fire Station One, the old county courthouse, ABC11's studios, the Durham county jail and other downtown locations.
At each stop, the crowd stressed communication and choices that can make a difference in the lives of people facing challenges today. Voices heard on this chilly day called for action by the faithful, and wisdom from those responsible for public safety.
"Through the power of prayer, in Jesus Christ's name. It's all about standing together as one, and God getting the glory. We're gonna come together across church lines, denomination lines, racial lines, to do what God wants us to do," said Fitzpatrick, who is also a lawyer.
"Yes, he's a defense attorney. I know him well," said deputy chief Anthony Marsh, moments after the group prayed for several minutes in front of police headquarters. "I've been on the opposite side of him in the past! But I think the bigger message is that message of unity. No one entity is gonna address all of these issues."
Track coach Dennis Alston paused along the prayer walk's downtown route to speak with ABC11 about his friend Shareef Muhummad. Muhammad was fatally shot during a 2014 home invasion blocks away from North Carolina Central University.
"We're not gonna just sit back and let this happen. We need to support our young people. It's terrible that it's hard to reach these guys who are out here doing these things, but we can't stop," said Alston.
Deputy police chief Marsh said the action taken by Fitzpatrick and the prayer walkers is commendable, and people who couldn't participate on Saturday can still make a difference for Durham.
"Take time and mentor someone, mentor a young person," said Marsh. "Mentoring is work, but team up."
Organizers hope to show at-risk youths and adults it's possible to succeed without succumbing to temptation that can lead to dire consequences.
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