Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jun 2004
Source: News & Advance, The (VA)
Copyright: 2004 Media General
Author: Bill Freehling / Lynchburg News & Advance


In words and deeds reminiscent of the American civil rights movement, 
residents of Lynchburg's Diamond Hill non-historic neighborhood defiantly 
and determinedly took to the streets Monday to fight a problem plaguing 
their homes.

"No, no, no, the drugs have gotta go," residents chanted as they marched 
down streets surrounding the Diamond Hill Recreation Center - an area that 
has recently topped police lists for drugs and violence.

Children joined the march, waving American flags and saying: "No more weed. 
No more drugs."

Aubrey Barbour drove a parks and recreation van behind the roughly 40 
marchers, carrying a half-dozen residents who wanted to participate but 
couldn't walk the distance.

Ahead of the van walked Lynchburg government officials - police officers, a 
prosecutor, the fire marshal and building commissioner to name just a few.

Stopping frequently along the 1600 and 1700 blocks of Taylor Street, 
residents Ron Tinsley and Anthony Smith spoke on bullhorns to people 
gathered on front porches and yards.

"By any means necessary," Smith said in the catch slogan of Malcolm X, "we' 
re taking our neighborhood back."

Mixed in with the rhetoric was the message of Christian love.

Resident Leonard Perry led the group in prayer before the march started 
from the recreation center about 6:45 p.m.

Smith said Jesus loved the drug dealers, but he hated what they were doing 
to the neighborhood - bottoming out property values, keeping visitors away, 
intimidating longtime residents into finding safer pastures to live.

Returning after a half-hour march down Taylor, Monroe, 16th, 17th and 18th 
streets, young marchers rushed onto the recreation center's newly renovated 
playground. Adults gathered and sang "We Shall Overcome."

Participants seemed happy and united. "We've got people in this community 
who really care," Lt. George Royal of the Lynchburg Police Department told 
the crowd. "And I think we showed that today."

They must continue to show that in the months ahead, said Barbour, who led 
18 months worth of similar anti-drug marches in his Tinbridge Hill 
neighborhood in the late 1990s.

"You're sending a message out to the people that you're not going to 
tolerate it," said Barbour, the director of the Yoder Recreation Center.

Smith, who's lived in the neighborhood for three years, said more marches 
are planned. His mother recently moved out after seven years in the area.

Everybody involved Monday night wants the drug dealers to leave instead. If 
the first march was any indication, they're determined to meet that 
challenge by any means necessary.

"Either they're gonna leave or I'm gonna leave," Smith said after the 
march. "And I don't plan on going anywhere."
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