Detroit Church Lets It Be Known, ‘We Have No Room for Violence’

A crowd including family members of Steve Utash thank retired nurse Deborah Hughes during a vigil for violent crime victims at Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit. Ryan Garza / Detroit Free Press
A crowd including family members of Steve Utash thank retired nurse Deborah Hughes during a vigil for violent crime victims at Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit. Ryan Garza / Detroit Free Press

Hundreds of people packed historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit on Thursday to send a powerful message of healing in the wake of a mob attack on a Clinton Township man, who stopped to help a 10-year-old boy hit by his truck when the child darted into traffic.

“The perpetrators of the evil, you will not win,” said Bishop Edgar Vann, at the nondenominational prayer vigil. “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.”

The family of Steve Utash — the man beaten April 2 — walked into the service unified and holding hands with Deborah Hughes, a retired nurse credited with saving their father’s life. They received a standing ovation, while they embraced each other.

“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,” said Bishop Charles Ellis of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.

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The crowd — full of Detroit and metro Detroit residents — cried, clapped and shouted as leaders called for more cohesiveness within the region.

The service drew dignitaries including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, members of the Detroit City Council, and members of the Detroit 300, a group of civilian volunteers who police the city. A coalition of Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and Baptist religious leaders made a strong appeal to the community to maintain a spirit of peace and calm as the summer months approach.

Duggan said Hughes is a model of what Detroit residents should strive to be.

“When you think about Deborah Hughes, she saw a man in need,” Duggan said. “She didn’t say that’s a white man or black man. She said, ‘That is wrong.’ That’s the kind of Detroit I know.”

Hughes stepped in and stopped the group of men from beating Utash, but despite being heralded and called a hero, she believes that what she did was “just the right thing to do.”

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Source: Detroit Free Press | Katrease Stafford and Gina Damron

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