Vigil held for victims of violence

Group gathers for candlelight vigil in Conway. / Lisa Edge

CONWAY, S.C. - On the lawn in front of the old courthouse in Conway, about two dozen people came together to take a stand against violence. Including city leaders and those who have lost loved ones.

"Ten years ago, I lost my cousin to gun shots two times in the back of his head and almost lost my son through gun shot violence," explains Dianne Davis.

Davis is one of the vigil's organizers. She helped take care of Shaquille Pertell when she was a small child at her home daycare center. Pertell is a teenager who was shot and killed in a home last month. Davis says she was devastated by the news of Pertell's murder. "The violence needs to cease and breaking into people houses needs to cease. We need to be able to work with each other and live among each other without trying to hurt them or destroy someone's life."

With each candle lit, the awareness of crime within the community is raised. Conway City Councilman Larry White says he'd like to see a move back towards having a village raise the child, not just parents alone. "A lot of the ladies, the older moms and dads that used to sit on the porch they're so fearful of things they're not on the porch anymore so anything and everything that goes on in the community and nobody's out there to say boy stop doing that, girl stop doing that, pull your pants up."

Davis recommends creating a neighborhood watch. "When you go to work there's always someone left in that neighborhood and by having that crime watch there. There's always someone there watching."

She created one in the Racepath community of Conway. "We were able to demolish a whole lot of abandoned houses. We got new sidewalks, new streets, new drainage. We even got shrubbery and everything. Anything to beautify your area will run criminals away," adds Davis.

Both Davis and White agree the vigil is just a start. They both hope it to leads to a bigger movement within the community.

This year, there have been nine murders in Horry County and one in Conway, that's down from last year.