Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rain Doesn't Drown Message; Marchers Protest Drugs, Crime Church, Civic Groups Chant 'Up with Hope, Down with Dope'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rain Doesn't Drown Message; Marchers Protest Drugs, Crime Church, Civic Groups Chant 'Up with Hope, Down with Dope'

Article excerpt

Byline: Tia Mitchell, Times-Union staff writer

As scores of Jacksonville marchers were about to take to the streets in protest against drugs and violence, the rain began.

As the sprinkles turned into a shower about 6 p.m., the group of various church and civic organization members began to shout and yell.

"We ain't gonna let the rain stop us, amen?" asked the Rev. Quovadis Thomas into a megaphone.

"Amen," the crowd responded.

Ten minutes later, when it looked like the rain was letting up, the marchers started their journey on the Northside from 45th Street and Moncrief Road to the Moncrief Missionary Baptist Church on 22nd Street and Myrtle Avenue.

But instead of the rain subsiding, it increased and poured upon the almost 200 marchers during the mile-and-a-half trek. They shouted and chanted the whole time, saying "Up with hope, down with dope" in between "hallelujah" and "thank you, God."

The Moncrief Missionary Baptist Church sponsors the march each year as part of its drug outreach ministry, but this year the church was helped by at least a half-dozen other entities who support the message of turning away from drugs and crime toward a life with Jesus Christ. Hearses carrying empty caskets supported the marchers' message of bringing children to church to avoid burying them at a cemetery.

The green and black shirt that Donald Foy, president of the Jacksonville chapter of MAD DADS, wore was soaked within minutes. He said the march had to go on, despite the rain.

"The crack dealer doesn't let the rain stop him from dealing. The dope addict doesn't let the rain stop him from getting out there and hustling for money to get drugs. So we as Christians should not let a little rain stop us from getting out and saying we are going to take a stand against drugs, violence and crime in our community," he said.

Foy said the foul weather helped marchers send an even stronger message to people in the community who are involved in illegal activities.

"We 're so tired of it we'll get out and walk in a rainstorm for it," he said.

Egbert Davis walked with a group from Teen Challenge International Ministry, a faith-based drug recovery program for youth. …

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