Better Family Life and pastors host rally to stop violence in North St. Louis

ST. LOUIS – Dozens of people including several pastors and community leaders walked up and down North Grand Sunday chanting how they’ve had enough of the violence, drug use and prostitution.

Members of Better Family Life in conjunction with area churches put the focus on what they call is a major crisis in some of St. Louis’ most challenged neighborhoods.

That includes the Jeff Vander-Lou neighborhood.

People rallied at the intersection of Montgomery and North Grand, the same area where a 9-year-old boy was shot in the buttock last weekend.

For over a year Better Family Life has set up triage in 2 open air drug markets.

Through this effort, resources are delivered directly to people as they walk the streets.

Because of these efforts 15 people have been taken into drug treatment and 23 conflicts have been successfully de-escalated.

Some of the people who took part in today’s walk tell Fox 2 many of these issues hit close to home, some of them having a loved one who died because of a drug overdose.

“The type of change I’m looking for is for people to come together and mainly just come together and stop doing drugs stop all the killing we are better than this,” said Francesca Fenner.

Pastor Larita Rice of Empowerment of Grace said, “I think it’s important for the church to be at the forefront of this movement and more importantly I think that it’s important for us to come together as a unit collectively.”

Better Family Life is also working on opening up de-escalation centers. The centers will be located at 2 area churches and proved a safe, confidential opportunity for individuals who know of a conflict that is on a trajectory towards gun violence to come in and share the information.

Many of the local pastors are also holding a meeting on Thursday at 6 p.m. to talk about tackling crime.