Pastors announce plan to help Springfield's violence - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Pastors announce plan to help Springfield's violence

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

There have been three homicides in the last nine days in the city, as well as other shootings during that time.

An organization of local pastors has had enough of the violence.

On Thursday, the Council of Churches of Western Mass announced their plan to help take back the city with the Eyes on the Street initiative. 

The group said it will begin with a city-wide prayer service this coming Monday night.

"When you can have in broad daylight, folks who have no fear take out their weapons and discharge their weapons... it's out of control," said Archbishop Timothy Paul, president of the group.

Joined by numerous pastors from across the area, Paul introduced the initiative, which begins with a talk.

"Our clergy are going to begin preaching a series of messages from their pulpits, to the thousands of people that we represent every Sunday, about why it's important to take back their streets," said Paul.

Paul said their weekly audience needs to hear what they have to say, as he believes many are scared.

"A lot of these residents live in fear," Paul stated. "We have the power to preach the message we preach on Sunday mornings, to help them overcome the fear that they have. That's important."

"The message will be simple: change your heart, watch your street," said Pastor Darwin Rivera of Centro Cristiano Nacíon de Jesus. "If we change the heart and try to do the right thing, we can change our street."

Rivera speaks weekly with residents of the city's North End, one of the shooting sites from last week.

He told CBS 3 that it is time for residents to help police and he believes they will.

"[The police] cannot do it alone," said Rivera. "We can help give them the information of those that are basically doing the wrong thing."

Rivera said the message is a universal one, no matter the make-up of the congregation.

"It doesn't matter if you're Latino, black or white," Rivera stated. "It's one message. We all get affected. It doesn't matter who it is. It's our city. It's one city, so I think it's one message."

Along with calling in crime tips, the initiative calls for city help to create better lighting for sidewalks, as well as a larger number of shops and public places.

The Council of Churches said a well-used street is less likely to see crime.

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