The Rev. Ira Acree leads peace march and prayer

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Members of Austin’s Greater St John Bible Church and its pastor, the Rev. Ira Acree, will take their Aug. 1 service to the West Side streets to focus attention on the rash of gun violence in Chicago and across America.

Church members, police and residents will join Acree and clergy from the Chicago Clergy Coalition at 6:30 p.m. at the church, 1256 N. Waller Ave., as they offer prayers throughout the Austin neighborhood.

In the wake of the Colorado massacre, which claimed 12 lives and left 58 others wounded, the church will also offer prayers on that community’s behalf. While the group seeks to express their solidarity with the victims of Colorado, it also hopes to lend their voices as support for the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons.

“We applaud Gov. Quinn for taking the first step to create a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines,” Acree said in a written statement. “While the massacre in Colorado is a tragedy, senseless killings happen in Chicago and other cities in Illinois every day at the hands of perpetrators wielding these types of weapons. We refuse to become immune to this war zone-like atmosphere.”

Acree and community leaders will call on state legislators and members of Congress to support legislation that will revive the ban on the sale and distribution of assault weapons to ordinary citizens.

“The NRA has successfully confused the masses by misrepresenting our message,”Acree said. “No one is trying to take anyone’s constitutional right to bear arms away. We want assault weapons of mass destruction off the streets before it’s too late. They are instruments of domestic terrorism.”

Wednesday’s event comes after The Chicago Clergy Coalition declared July 27-29 Peace Weekend. More than 100 churches joined together to pledge to help stop the violence.

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