Davenport NAACP Chair of Communications Sends Strong Message on Gun Violence
Early Sunday morning, dozens of rounds were fired from the Redstone Ramp in Davenport which caused a lot of damage to the Figge Art Museum and the Skybridge in Davenport. On Monday, a joint press conference was held with Davenport Mayor Mike Matson, Police Chief Paul Sikorski, and members from the NAACP and Davenport Peace task force in regards to the incident that took place early Sunday morning.
Davenport NAACP Chair of Communications Rev. Dr. Melvin Grimes spoke during that press conference and he had a strong message to send.
Davenport Mayor Matson, Police Chief Paul Sikorski, Rev. Dr. Melvin Grimes and Pastor Stephen Echols all spoke during Monday's press conference following the damage done to the Figge Art Museum and the Skybridge after almost 80 rounds were fired early Sunday morning.
Fortunately, no one was injured because of the shots fired at around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Redstone Ramp in downtown Davenport. Chief Sikorski released a portion of the video footage from the Redstone Ramp showing more that 25 cars and 80 subjects that were at the Redstone Ramp.
Following Chief Sikorski and Mayor Matson, Rev. Dr. Melvin Grimes, Davenport NAACP Chair of Communications spoke. Rev. Grimes sent a message that was loud and clear.
"...if it continues on until one of our young people is shot by the police department trying to protect themselves, please do not holler or come running to the NAACP hollering “what’s wrong, this is not right,” because you refuse to have respect and dignity for somebody else."
Pastor Stephen Echols, who is also part of the Davenport Peace task force, spoke after Rev. Grimes about unity and how it's the community of Davenport's responsibility. He said that the community cannot allow this kind of action and accept what is taking place. Pastor Echols also said during the conference,
"We need you to put the guns down. This is our community, we don't have to take this. We don't have to stand for this. No, this is our responsibility people, this is our responsibility. This is past color."
See Monday's full press conference below.
Here is the full transcript from the Rev. Dr. Melvin Grimes portion of the conference:
“Thank you, Mr. Mayor, and to our Chief Sikorski, and to, of course our president who is hear from the NAACP. I’m chair of community relations. I also pastor church here in the Quad Cities. I also have a vested interest her in the Quad Cities as far as youth, who are members of our church, and I am standing here saying that this can no longer happen. This is not acceptable. We pay taxes here, I pay taxes here. I work with many members of the community here. I have been a resident of the community for the past 32 years.
I don’t want to have to do anymore funerals. I’m tired of writing condolences to parents who have lost children, young people, who are part of this violence and victims of this violence. The finger pointing has got to stop, the saying that “I don’t trust anybody” has got to stop, because if it doesn’t then trouble is going to visit somebody on their front doors and it’s going to be another loss of life which does not make any sense.
Anytime that I ha- funerals are hard enough in what I do. But when I have to do a funeral of young person, or an adult, who has been the victim of senseless violence; and it is senseless. It is senseless and I don’t mean to bite my tongue about it, it’s senseless. It’s stupid. It does not solve anything and it doesn’t make you anymore of a man or a woman if you’re going to hide behind a pistol because you have a disagreement. It doesn’t make sense. I could say something more, much more penetrating, but I won’t, but I’m sick of it.
Now you have one of two choices. You can either let it continue on, and if it continues on until one of our young people is shot by the police department trying to protect themselves, please do not holler or come running to the NAACP hollering “what’s wrong, this is not right,” because you refuse to have respect and dignity for somebody else. We can disagree and be disagreeable. We can be disagreeable and go our separate ways but it does not mean we take a life.
You’re a coward if you’re going to stand behind a gun. And our Mayor, as well as our Police Chief and law enforcement, is asking for the communities help. Be brave enough, be smart enough, and have enough respect and courage to say something and provide some kind of information. If we can reach an accomplishment such as we did today on the Illinois side of the river; where I as a part of the Village of a Thousand Elders, along with the police chiefs, along with the super intendents of school, along with the mayors on the Illinois side, signed a covenant where we will respect each other and we will not use color as an assumption, then it can be done on the Iowa side as well.
It can be done because it’s being done. And it can be done and I’m here as a representative of the NAACP to say that I’m working with the police department, as well as the Mayor and others who are willing to work together to have respect for each other and respect for life.