More than 300 people marched through the streets of Petersburg, Va., Saturday, encouraging residents to take a stand against drugs and turn instead to God, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. “We declare the city of Petersburg will be substance-free,” said the Rev. Claudine Lee, pastor of Tabernacle of Praise Fellowship. A march and rally were led by the Community Transformation Council, a group of more than 20 churches whose members meet regularly and pray for the city and its residents.
“Instead of just praying, we felt like we had to do something physically to let the pushers know that we are tired of people dying from drugs,” said Pastor Joseph P. Green, founder of the community council and pastor of Emmanuel Worship Center. “Some of them are losing their minds,” he said of drug addicts, “and it brings a lot of poverty in the city.” A Times-Dispatch analysis of state police crime statistics for 2007 indicated that Petersburg was central Virginia’s most dangerous place to live, based on the number of serious crimes for its size. The city recorded 93 offenses per 1,000 residents in 2007, surpassing Richmond. Petersburg police report that armed robberies increased 70 percent from the start of this year through March 18, compared with the same period last year.