March against violence draws crowd

November 17, 2012
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Robin Richards / Observer-Reporter
An estimated crowd of more than 500 people marched Saturday in the CommUnity Voices Against Violence. The group marched from the front of Old Main on the Washington & Jefferson College Campus up Beau Street and through Washington before returning to campus. Order a Print
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Robin Richards / Observer-Reporter
Washington High School band members and cheerleaders were among those who came out to march against violence Saturday. Order a Print
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Robin Richards / Observer-Reporter
Local leaders, including Tori Haring-Smith, president of Washington & Jefferson College, left, Roberta DiLorenzo, superintendent of Washington School District, center, and Brenda Davis, mayor of Washington, participated in the march. Order a Print
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Robin Richards / Observer-Reporter
Dr. Robert McNerney is greeted by Georgianna Farkas of Washington following McNerney’s speech at the conclusion of the CommUnity Voices Against Violence program and march Saturday afternoon. Order a Print

Hundreds of people had their walking shoes on Saturday with the hopes of stomping out violence in Washington.

The first CommUnity March was a combined effort by the city and college communities and stemmed from the recent death of Washington & Jefferson student Timothy McNerney, 21, of Butler. McNerney, a senior lineman on the college football team, was assaulted by a group of men as he and a friend were returning to their dormitory in early October.

McNerney died of head injuries. His assailants have not been found.

McNerney’s death caused outrage in the community and resulted in Saturday’s showing of unity against violence and crime.

“We want to stand strong today and let the perpetrators know that our eyes and ears are open and we will prosecute to the full extent of the law,” said Mayor Brenda Davis. “Our message is this is the first step of many steps (against violence).”

As participants showed up in front of W&J’s Old Main building in preparation for the march, they found various tables filled with literature and reference material regarding violent crime and how they can stand against it. There was also a table where participants could make their own signs and another where high school friends of McNerney were selling T-shirts featuring their friend’s photo on the front.

Bob Yenick said the shirts were being sold to raise funds for the McNerney family.

McNerney’s father, Robert, said his son would have been proud of the turnout and the “commitment of all these people to do something about violence in the community.”

McNerney’s mother, Denise, said, while the event was a wonderful feat, it was also very “bittersweet.”

Marchers walked from the college campus up Beau Street to Main Street, where they passed the county courthouse and then down Cherry Alley in front of the county’s Memorial Garden that is dedicated to victims of violent crime. The march continued back to Main down to East Maiden Street onto College Street and back to the college campus.

While the McNerneys are hoping that the person who killed their son will be found, they said their “biggest concern is the people in the community.”

“Hopefully, this will raise consciousness in the people of the city that they need to work together to reduce violence and crime in the city,” said Robert McNerney.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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