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Peace advocates to hold town hall meeting in wake of recent wave of homicides

Buffalo organizations including Stop the Violence Coalition and Peacemakers are veterans of the front lines – intervening with gangs, stopping fights and showing up for court dates on the behalf of young offenders.

If it were not for their work as “boots on the ground,” the leaders believe, violence in the city would be worse.

But confronted with the recent wave of violence in the city – 11 shootings, six killed since the end of last month – these community groups are recommitting themselves to forge a new action plan.

To this end, 20 leaders of anti-violence organizations met in WUFO radio studio on Broadway on Saturday to announce an emergency town hall meeting for 6 p.m. Monday in Frank E. Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave.

Local organizers will take the plans to Washington, D.C., for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on Oct. 10, when they will share goals and their work with like-minded organizations from across the country.

“What we do on Monday will lead us and prepare us,” said BUILD President Charlie Fisher III. “When we come back (from Washington), we will have heard the greatest minds and the greatest talent in the world show us what can be done, and when we come back we want to be inspired to implement a plan. ... We’re coming back empowered.”

The focus of the local action plan is centered on the crisis of black males, the community leaders said.

Heading into September, there were a decade-low 19 homicides. Since then, there have been at least 11 shootings in the city. Five of the six who were killed were black, said meeting organizers.

On Saturday, a 28-year-old Williamsville man was fatally shot in Kaisertown.

A 31-year-old Buffalo man was shot just after 3 a.m. Sept. 5 in the first block of Kilhoffer Street, according to Buffalo Police. He died a short time later.

About 1:45 a.m. the same day, two men were fatally shot dead in the 500 block of Michigan Avenue. The victims, believed to be in their 30s, were sitting in a vehicle when they were shot, police said.

The victims’ names were not immediately available.

Damon Hall, 25, of the Town of Tonawanda, was shot and killed as he emerged from Trendz, a Broadway clothing store, at about 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 1.

And on Aug. 30, Timothy Goodwin, 28, of Buffalo, was killed in a nighttime shooting at Crossman Avenue and Heminway Street.

“We need to put together a plan to deal with the epidemic going on in Buffalo,” said Samuel L. Radford III, co-chairman of the Buffalo Local Action Committee.

Other groups and their leaders signing on to the recommitment announced Saturday include Minister Dahveed Muhammad of Mosque 23 of the Nation of Islam; Pastor Anthony Brown, program manager for SNUG (guns spelled backwards); the Rev. Kinzer M. Pointer, pastor of Agape Fellowship Baptist Church; Bryon J. McIntyre, vice president of the District Parent Coordinating Council; attorney Anthony Pendergrass; Bill Peoples, owner of Umoja Market; Jim Anderson, state vice president of Citizen Action; and Buffalo Bullet opinion-editorial blogger Chris Stevenson.