Trenton pastors make a stand against violence

TRENTON, N.J. - April 24, 2014

Rev. John Harris returned to the pulpit at Galilee Baptist in Trenton to the same spot he stood Tuesday when gunfire erupted outside the church, piercing the stain glass windows and the sanctity of the house of worship.

It happened during a funeral for a 19-year-old, with dozens of suspected gang members in attendance.

Five people were injured, one man arrested, and five guns were found in and around the church.

Rev. Harris tells us, "These are generations of people - young people - who are growing up with no respect for God, no fear of death, no worry of the police, and they don't mind going to prison."

The day after the shooting someone set fire to the porch at a retired police officer Luddie Austin's house whose son was murdered last year.

Austin says, "I think this is a message to me. Not only to me, but to the community, to the city as a whole that they don't fear law enforcement."

To many in the city the level of gun and gang violence is shocking.

Community activist Juan Martinez says, "They're out of control. There are things, they are urban terrorists. We don't want to call them gangs. Call them whatever you want to call them but that's what it is."

Rev. Harris was conducting the funeral for a man who did not attend his church. Concerned about the potential danger of another shooting, pastors from around the city are proposing to end the practice of conducting funerals for non-members. They say they are tired of the disrespect and profanity they've put up with in the past at the funerals of suspected gang members.

Rev. Harris says the Ku Klux Klan must be laughing at the black-on-black violence that's claimed so many lives. And even after the shooting at his church, he says he for one will not shy away from burying what he believes are souls who have strayed.

"My job is not to run from trouble, it's to run to it," Rev. Harris said.

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