Troy pastor implores community to stop violence

Posted at: 02/18/2013 11:01 PM
Updated at: 02/19/2013 12:06 AM
By: Jessica Layton

TROY - A local pastor who‘s made it his mission to reach out to struggling kids is pleading with the public to take a pledge and be part of the plan to stop senseless crime.

This is in response to the murder of a 21-year-old man, earlier this month.

The hope is to start to turn that sadness into solutions to end the violence.

A small but determined group, coming together in grief in hopes of inspiring change, led by a pastor who spoke with passion.

“I am so sick and tired of burying our youth,” said Pastor Willie Bacote, of Missing Link AME Zion Church.

Bacote was close to tears at times as he referenced the latest tragedy in Troy - the killing of 21-year-old Takim Smith at the Corliss Park Apartments.

A harsh reality learned way too early for Smith's cousin, Vanessa Angel.

“He got stabbed, murdered…I still think about it to this day,” she says.

Six young people have been arrested as a result of the crime, an incident that touched every person in the room.

“One life gone but so many lives affected,” says Pastor Bacote.

Still, there are so many lives to be saved. That's why leaders at the Missing Link AME Zion Church are asking everyone here to take a pledge: To treat others with respect, not to resolve disputes with violence, to make the community better and to do your best in school. The list goes on.

“This city needs to pull in every black youth, white youth, Hispanic youth…We need a summit,” says Pastor Bacote.

He points out the issues start with lack of involvement by parents.

“Where are the parents tonight? Where are the parents in the community all around Troy?” he asked.

That’s why those here say raising kids becomes a job for anyone who cares in the community.

Some of the solutions they talked about include the need for a community center, getting the schools involved through an assembly or a summit as one woman mentioned. They also discussed more after school programs and a possible partnership with CDTA so kids aren't walking the streets as much.

Everyone agreed - the solutions start at home. Pastor Bacote hopes more parents show up the next time he has a meeting.