RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Community activists, along with city, county, and state leaders formed a human chain along Raleigh Boulevard across from one of the city's most troubled communities.
Saturday evening the group stood hand in hand chanting, "United we stand. Divided we fall." Their message of hope and peace echoed across the street toward neighbors living at Millbank Court Apartments.
The community is plagued with poverty, violence, and gangs, and activists say it is leaving an impression on young people.
The numbers show the issue is out of control. Within a year, there have been more than 1,500 calls for police to respond.
Property managers even implemented a 10 p.m. curfew to keep the peace and have given Raleigh police permission to arrest anyone not on a lease or with a tenant.
However, activists believe that it's not enough.
"We have to do something to reach these children," said Andre Harris, a local NAACP member and speaker at the prayer vigil.
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Harris said children in the community have to understand there are consequences to poor decisions.
"I did 24 years and three months in prison for a nonviolent crime, and I do not desire for today's youth to go through what I do," Harris said.
But Saturday's vigil to reach young people got off to a rocky start.
A distressed woman from the neighborhood interrupted the gathering.
Police were called to the vigil and subdued her.
It's not clear if the woman was high on drugs or suffering from mental illness, an issue activist and elected leaders at the vigil say speaks to the needs of the community.
"Sometimes it's good to see why we are needed to be some place, and not to look down to say 'this is bad,'" said Wake County Judge Vincent Rozier.
Other elected leaders included Corey Branch, Raleigh City Councilman, James West, Wake County Commissioner, and Rep. Yvonne Holly of Wake County District 38.
"We're here to say that we are going to do our part to make sure that this community gets some support," said Holly.
Community Activist Diana Powell helped organize the gathering.
"It is really time for us to come together because if we're serious about standing together then we can get those changes and the help that we need, but we have to start within," said Powell. "We gotta be held accountable for some of this stuff as well. We can't always look for the government to help."
Powell believes prayers, hope, and a collective effort to save this community will take time and resources.
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