PATERSON, NJ - "Mother, mother there's too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother there's far too many of you dying. You know we've got to find a way. To bring some loving here today," the crowd outside of the Paterson Public Library sang on Saturday. For those gathered at the end of the Paterson CeaseFire Group's 13th annual Palm Saturday Prayer Walk for Peace the words of the Marvin Gaye classic, as well as the sentiment beind them, rang especially true on a day following five shootings over two days that left one man dead on seven injured.
"We are here to make a statement," Reverend Allan Boyer told the crowd, but intended for those all across the city that continue to engage in gunfire: "Violence is not the way."
Echoing sentiments shared with TAPinto Paterson prior to the march stepping off at Cobb Park in the the city's First Ward, Boyer urged that everyone, from community leaders to family members, have to be part of the effort to stop the violence. To his fellow religous leader Boyer added that it's "not enough to get in the pulpit at 11:00 and let everything get back to normal at 2:00."
While Mayor Andre Sayegh marched in the procession that included nearly 100 people, and representatives from groups such as Moms Demand Action, Paterson's Bronze Heat, and the Guardian Angels, it was Paterson City Council members Ruby Cotton and Lilisa Mimms that took up speaking duties at its conclusion.
Cotton said that the Paterson CeaseFire Group was the first orgaization she joined when first elected to her position because she had seen them "stand together and fight together," an effort she wanted to be a part of. "When one of us is hurt we all hurt," Cotton added repeating what became a common theme throughout all of the messages that ending the violence would be a coordinated effort between community and law enforcement.
"All lives matter," Mimms started into the microphone, showing her own chops as a preacher. "We have to speak light, we have to speak peace."
To the members of the JFK Marching Band that helped keep the marchers on pace Mimms urged "get your education, save your lives, save Paterson."
Speaking on behalf of Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald, who had also marched but left in order to direct the stepped up law enforcement efforts following the criminal activity of the previous days, was Captain Patrick Murray.
"The last 48 hours have been rough," Murray said. "Not one of us should tolerate," the crimes he added before renewing a pledge he and his colleages have made countless times before to work hand in hand with the community to make Paterson safer.
Acknowledging past strains between law enforcement and those they serve Murray said that it's ok to disagree, but instead of "throwing rocks at each other," he asked, "let's talk about it."
"Let's leave here today looking to do something tomorrow."
With his marching duty over and having listened intently to several speeches, prayers, and a performance by the marching band, 10-year-old Kasmere sat on the steps of the library, as if contemplating the day's events. Though innocently unaware of the recent shootings the 5th grade student at School 12 did know that the regular occurence of violence makes him scared to go outside.
Asked what he would tell those who continue to commit violence, a number estimated at just one percent of the Paterson population, Kasmere said thoughtfully "how would you feel if it someone you love got shot?"
"Please understand," he added more wisely than he probably understood, "it's painful."