Candlelight vigil marks mothers call to end violence

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CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) –Tears were shed Saturday night in Clayton as dozens of mothers stood outside the St. Louis County Justice Center for a prayer vigil against violence.  Many there had lost children to violence.  They hoped their message as mothers to turn away from violence and hate will change hearts and foster peace.

One of the organizers, the Reverend Traci Blackmon of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant said the women have a unique potential to bridge racial gaps and economic gaps "because we all understand the grief of a hurting child or a lost child."

The group stood in a circle holding burning candles.  Many hugged the person next to them and wiped away tears as they listened to prayers.  Individuals stepped forward to offer prayers for the youth, the community and the nation. They also prayed for law enforcement officers and for the protestors seeking justice after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson this summer.

Rev. Blackmon called on both the protestors and the police to exercise restraint.

"I am concerned after more than 80 days people are under stress," she said, explaining she is also a nurse.
Speaking to police she urged them to understand that a crowd moving peacefully toward them is an act of civil disobedience and not aggression.  She spoke to the protestors as well.

"I'm pleading with them to separate from those who might be agitators or who might be those who are out to cause bodily harm or death," Rev. Blackmon said. "My cry and I'm sure the cry of every mother here is that there be no more blood in our streets.

At a different event Saturday night, former St. Louis City Chief of Police Dan Isom said he felt clergy, political leaders and police were preparing as best they could for the potential of more protests after the decision comes from the St. Louis Grand Jury investigating the Brown shooting.

"I know law enforcement is working very hard to protect life, property and also allow people to protest and have their first amendment rights," he said.

Isom is now the Director of Missouri's Department of Public Safety, an agency that includes the Missouri Highway Patrol and the National Guard.
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