ESSEX — St. Stephens AME Church will host a community public safety meeting on Saturday afternoon in response to recent violence, and you are invited.

The event is a collaboration with Guardian Angels, a Baltimore-based nonprofit working with community organizations, local police and individuals to bolster neighborhood security.

Marcus Strider Dent, Guardian Angels Regional Director, said the plan is for folks to gather together outdoors and discuss a shared goal of creating a safer community. He extended the invitation to local politicians, law enforcement leaders and any community members who want to take part.

“This is not a time to sit around and complain,” he said. “This is us saying we want a better Essex, and how can we make that happen?”

Dent explained that Guardian Angels had been in discussion with local church leaders about hosting a community forum on public safety before the pandemic, responding to rising trends of violence. As ever, COVID-19 disrupted things.

However, after five people died and more were injured in a series of connected shootings on Sunday, including two customers at the Royal Farms on Middleborough Road, Dent said that this is a moment to act.

It’s not a protest and it’s not a march — for Dent, the goal is to build a coalition united under the goal of public safety.

Again, the gathering will take place outdoors, and COVID-19 precautions will be observed. With sun in the forecast, you’re invited to bring your family and friends.

Event details: Saturday, April 3 at 2 p.m. at St. Stephens AME Church, 1601 Old Eastern Ave. For more info, contact Guardian Angels at 410-808-6806 or St. Stephens AME Church 410-686-9392.

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