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.