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Pastors, Others Pray for End to Violence in Wake of Vicious Mob Attack

Hundreds of Detroit metro residents gathered Thursday for a "night of healing" at the Historic Little Rock Baptist Church, located a few blocks from where Steven Utash was beaten in a vicious mob attack on April 2. (Screenshot: WJBK video)
Hundreds of Detroit metro residents gathered Thursday for a "night of healing" at the Historic Little Rock Baptist Church, located a few blocks from where Steven Utash was beaten in a vicious mob attack on April 2. (Screenshot: WJBK video)

Hundreds of Detroit area residents crowded the Historic Little Rock Baptist Church Thursday to say “no more” to the type of violence that nearly ended the life of a Clinton Township man on April 2 when he stopped to help a 10-year-old who had run into traffic and was accidentally struck by his truck.

A diverse crowd of young and old, black and white, came to their feet when the family of the victim of the vicious attack, Steven Utash, 54, walked hand-in-hand with Deborah Hughes, the retired nurse who is credited with saving his life after intervening and convincing the mob to back away, the Detroit Free Press said.

The non-denominational prayer vigil – a “night of healing” organized by a coalition of Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and Baptist religious leaders and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan – was held on the same day the attack on Utash fficially became a hate crime.

Five people have been arrested and one of them, a juvenile, faces charges under Michigan’s ethnic intimidation statute. The juvenile, who like the other suspects is black, reportedly told investigators he joined in because Utash is white, WJBK, Channel 2, said.

Speakers at the vigil asked for unity against a common enemy: evil. They also urged peace and calm as summer months approach.

“The perpetrators of the evil, you will not win,” Bishop Edgar Vann of the Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, said “Good is going to outweigh evil. There’s power in coming together. There is power in faith. Now is the time, this is the place, our city is on the rise. We have no room for violence. We have no room for hatred or evil. The foolishness has to stop and the city is still on the rise.”

“We are not here to celebrate evil … why would we celebrate brutal mob attacks on individuals who are innocent? Thank God in the midst of evil that we still have good Samaritans. People willing to love in the midst of evil,” added Bishop Charles Ellis of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.

The Rev. Jim Holley, pastor of Little Rock, said the violent actions of a few should not a cast a “cloud of negativity” over the city, and said the actions of the 12 or so men responsible for the attack on Utash cannot be tolerated.

Perhaps the loudest applause of the night came when the Rev. Wendell Anthony, the leader of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, called on residents of the city to put “neighbor back in neighborhood,” WJBK said

“I don’t live in the ‘hood,” he reportedly said. “I live in the neighborhood.”

Duggan said he’s not sure how long he will be mayor, but “no matter how long I am here, I could not have a more special day than when I go with you and your family to talk to your father,” he said, directing his remarks to the three children of Utash, who sat in the front front of the church on Woodward Avenue, just a few blocks from the site of the attack.

Besides Duggan, other dignitaries who attended the vigil included U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), members of the Detroit City Council and members of Detroit 300 Community Patrol, a group of civilian volunteers who police the city.

Utash remains in a medically induced coma and doctors aren’t sure if he will make a full recovery. Utash, a tree trimmer,  lacks medical insurance, and an online fundraiser, established a week ago Friday, has now raised $158,573through 3,947 donations. He could be hospitalized for six months, his children said.

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JJ April 12, 2014 at 11:51 AM
That will work,like the Million man march in D.C.,crime didn't go down,it went up and it's been going up ever since or how about the Million woman's march,you have more unwed mothers every year or how about Kwamie and his Pastor who stood by this man and said he learned his lesson! Then we have those awesome do good RACISTS Hypocrites the REV. Al Sharpton & Jesse JAckson. You know when Jesse was giving Bill Clinton Marital advice while he JESSE was BANGING someone other then his WIFE or the lying RACIST Al Sharpton,who goes around stirring anti white sentiment when ever he sees the opportunity,now even Eric Holder and the LYING FOOL that we have for a president is using the RACE CARD to detract from his PATHETIC leadership! They all play the game extremely well and there are those who will now call me a RACIST,even though my daughter is married to a very nice GENTLEMAN who happens to be black or one of my nieces who was also married to a black man. I'm just telling it like it is. they have to starting walking the walk instead of just talking the talk! There are too many decent black men and women who are trying to move ahead and show in spite of their color that they have what it takes to move and get ahead in life dis-spite the many obstacles! Are there racist in this country,you better believe it! The 95% that voted for Obama not the 38% plus who put him over the top,Now you tell me honestly who are the biggest racist,the 95% or ????????? Remember that old saying " ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THEN WORDS " I don't know about YOU but I'm sick and tired of being labeled a racists simply because I don't agree with anyone who is black. PERIOD!!! We best open our eyes and see what's really going on before it's to late!!! The 95% don't want EQUALITY.........They want CONTROL! You hear and see it everyday but can't see what's really going on!!!
Sherry Spehar April 14, 2014 at 09:00 AM
Why arent the black parents and churches keeping these kids off the streets and making sure they have something productive to do like mow yards,shovel snow,pick up trash,read a book,help older people with chores,get a job,stay in school,go to a local musuem and library,watch younger families children,scrub floors,paint houses,etc.Keep hypocrites sharpton and jackson away from everyone.

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