HAMLET — Robert Covington is all too familiar with the violence that has swept through his community over the past month.
His brother, Randy, was killed May 21, 2011.
Covington, along with other family and community members, held a Stop the Violence event, less than half a mile from where two recent shootings have happened.
“Thank God, didn’t none of them die,” he said. “So, they got another chance. Some these guys might come out of it and be pastors.”
Covington, himself, was no angel: strung out on crack for 12 years and spent six years in prison. However, he’s been clean for 18 years and is now doing what he can to give back to his county.
“We may not be able to stop the violence…but as a village, we can raise the child,” he said. “And if we don’t come out here and put forth to help them, they can’t help us.”
The event, now in its second year, featured people giving testimonies and pastors giving “words, advice and strength,” Covington said.
“We’re just showing guys, that our brother was murdered…and we can forgive, because God forgave us,” he said. “My brother would want us to do this, because he wasn’t a violent person.”
Covington said if God can change his life, He can change anybody’s.
Pointing to Melvin Ingram’s event just down the road, he remarked at how the community was coming together for something positive.
“Not only does the community need to come together, the county needs to come together,” he said. “We need to come back to these streets and save our streets.”
Barbara David said the community should get more involved with watching over the youth.
“Just don’t pass ‘em, ask if there’s anything you can help them with, ‘cause it might be a stray,” she said. “We all go through trials and tribulations, and this is a hard time, right now, for kids. Parents need to stand up for their rights and take control of their children, instead of them taking control of themselves. That’s what’s wrong with the world, there’s no more parents.”
Several local government officials — including Dobbins Heights council members Barbara Young and Angeline David, town clerk Mary Magee and Hamlet Police Chief Scott Waters — stopped by.
“All of us are coming together and helping each other out,” Covington said, “And that’s what it’s all about.”
There were also members of several community organizations on hand to discuss their upcoming events geared toward giving the youth something positive to do.
Tyrannia Ellerbe said she will be hosting “Water Blast” at Falling Creek Park on July 9, with a variety of water-filled activities, including water slides and a swimming pool.
“I’m just trying to keep the kids out of the street, doing something positive,” she said. “If we can do anything to save one, I’m all about it.”
Alcohol and Drug Services will be hosting a Community Safe Celebration in Dobbins Heights on Aug. 27.
“It’s an event where the entire family can come, it’s free food and fun,” said Shirlyn Smith. “We have a basketball tournament, free swimming.”
She said the event is sponsored every year as an effort to reduce drinking and driving. Looking for volunteers and donors for school supplies that will be handed out. Anyone wishing to help can contact her at 910-997-7105 ext. 3.
“All of us are coming together and helping each other out,” Covington said, “And that’s what it’s all about. If the team gets bigger, maybe we can win a championship.”
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.