Rally activist: 'We have got to stop the violence'

Monica Jefferson speaks about her son, Malcolm Jefferson, who was killed in 2013, during an anti-violence rally Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, in Charleston. Melissa Boughton/Staff

About 50 people rallied Saturday afternoon to send a message that all lives matter and violence in the Lowcountry has to stop.

"Even if it's just one person here who gets the message, then we were successful in what we wanted to do today," said Pastor Thomas Dixon, co-founder of The Coalition: People United to Take Back Our Streets.

The two-hour event, "The Lowcountry Speaks Out Against Violence," took place at 11 a.m. on the steps of the Charleston Customhouse at East Bay and Market streets. Activists and loved ones of homicide victims spoke about a variety of violence-related topics.

"We're here to collectively be heard as we make a stand against domestic violence, as we make a stand against bullies, as we make a stand against police-involved deaths of black men, as we make a stand against black people killing other black people," Dixon shouted through a microphone. "We're here to tell them enough is enough."

Domestic violence survivor Danielle Richardson, who was featured in The Post and Courier's "Till Death Do Us Part" series, spoke about South Carolina's statistics. She recalled watching her mother suffer from abuse and die at the hands of her stepfather when she was just 16-years-old.

"Domestic Violence is a serious situation right now in South Carolina," Richardson, a certified victim advocate, said. "You're thinking, 'Well, it isn't happening to me, it isn't happening to my children,' but right next door, someone is going through it ... we need the community as a whole to stop the violence."

She encouraged people to reach out to her if they were going through an abusive situation or knew someone who had been abused. Dixon also read the names 46 people who were killed in South Carolina in 2013 by "intimate partners."

Dixon also talked about murder in the Lowcountry, stressing that "black lives matter," but more importantly, "all lives matter."

"Yes, white-on-black murders are wrong, but black-on-black murders are just as wrong," he said. "Killing is wrong, everybody say, 'All lives matter.'"

The crowd responded, yelling the words, "All lives matter."

Other speakers at the event included Dwayne German, the stepfather of Denzel Curnell, who died of a gunshot wound last year during a struggle with a police officer, and Monica Jefferson, the mother of Malcolm Jefferson, was gunned down on Oct. 8, 2013, as he stood outside a home on Forbes Avenue.

"We have got to stop the violence," Jefferson pleaded. "I will continue to fight on behalf of my son, I will definitely make my son's death - which is very negative - into something positive. I will keep his name alive."

She and Vanessa Halyard, 59, of North Charleston - whose son was also gunned down in 1991 while at South Carolina State University - touched on the topic of "snitching" and said the stigmatization of reporting wrongdoing needs to go.

"When we see something going on, we need to be the elders and say something," Halyard said. "Long gone are the days of hiding behind closed doors, because we are losing too many good people who have something to add to this world."

Christopher Cason, a member of Dixon's coalition said reporting crime when witnessed was an easy solution to stopping violence.

"You're not snitching if you tell someone who committed a crime, you're making your community safe," he said.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594.

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