Hundreds participate in Sunday prayer walk against violence

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comAugust 25, 2013 

The third of seven planned prayer walks to protest violence in Lexington attracted between 250-300 people on Sunday, organizers estimated.

"I think there is some commotion being created out there, with a lot of conversation and awareness," said the Rev. Willis Polk of Imani Baptist Church, which is organizing the community prayer walks.

Sunday's route went down Georgetown Street from Imani to the intersection with Newtown Pike, a 3.4-mile stretch that had plenty of water breaks in the sunny weather.

"If our doing this creates conversation, thought and reflection, then we are achieving what we set out to do," Polk said.

Although there have been recent shootings in the Georgetown Road area, Polk said the walks were also prompted by shootings and stabbings across Lexington.

Polk is inviting citizens to join in the prayer walks on Sept. 1, 8, 15 and 22 either on Georgetown Road or in their own neighborhoods and churches. The goal is to have 25,000 people in Lexington on Sept. 22 participating in the prayer walk, he said.

Polk said he has heard from representatives from as many as 20 churches who want to participate, including one in Louisville.

Walkers meet at 5 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the Imani Church at 1555 Georgetown Road.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said he is planning to join the Sept. 1 prayer walk.

"The walks give neighbors an opportunity to stand up for their neighborhoods, and clearly demonstrate how important safety is to all of our citizens, especially the safety of our children," he said last week."Public safety ... making sure citizens feel safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods ... is our most important job," he said. "I share neighbors' concerns. We're not going to hide from this challenge or ignore it. We're going to reach out and work on it."

Polk said neighbors are asking for concrete solutions.

Gray has begun working with neighbors and council members, and they have identified short-term solutions including stepping up public safety and code enforcement, he said, adding meetings on longer term needs continue.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter:@vhspears

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