Pastor sets event to stomp out violence in Aurora
By Erika Wurst firstname.lastname@example.org January 30, 2014 1:38PM
The Rev. Mark Smith | Sun-Times Media File Photo
Updated: January 31, 2014 10:55AM
On the day of Arin Williams’ funeral, more than 1,000 people showed up to pay their respects to the young Aurora man who was gunned down in the bathroom of an Aurora restaurant on Jan. 13.
“There was no room in the place,” the Rev. Mark Smith said. “At his wake, there was a line from the altar, out the door and all the way down to Ohio Street.”
Friends and family members showed up to Aurora’s Mount Olive Church of God in Christ in droves to say goodbye to the 20-year-old father.
And, while they were there, hundreds of young men made a promise to make sure what happened to Williams would not happen again.
Police said Williams was shot during an alleged drug deal gone bad. Two Joliet brothers have been charged with first-degree murder relating to Williams’ death.
Smith said that after giving Williams’ eulogy, he asked the young men in the room to come up to the altar if they were willing to do “something different to bring different results to this city.”
“Four to five hundred men flooded the altar,” Smith said. “It was unbelievable. They all agreed that we have to do something. At a funeral, it’s easy to feel emotion. But, it has to go beyond the funeral, otherwise, it will happen again.”
So, Smith is asking those young men, and other residents of Aurora, to come together as “Arin’s Army.” He has invited all men and women to gather at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mt. Olive, 1039 Bonner Ave., to help stomp out the violence in Aurora.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen (on Saturday), but we know something has to happen,” he said. “It’s about getting real, finding out what’s going on in the city.”
Smith said when he saw his 18-year-old son, Mark Jr., weeping at Williams’ funeral, he had a moment of harsh realization.
“I thought, this could be anyone’s son. There comes a moment when we say, ‘I get it. Something needs to happen,’” he said. “I don’t have all the answers. I am just a man who is saying, ‘Listen. Let’s do something.’
“None of the things we are talking about are new, but what we do have now is a passion that says something different needs to happen,” he said. “Maybe by coming together, we can find out what that means.”
Smith is asking that all young men show up and dedicate themselves to making a change.
“I am not claiming that we’re going to change the city. But, I am claiming that we have the power to change it,” he said. “I believe something good will come out of Arin’s death.”