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Lexington organization calls local leaders to action in annual event impacted by COVID-19

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 10:34 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s a tradition of almost 20 years.

“It’s called our Nehemiah Action,” B.U.I.L.D co-chair Reverend Joseph Owens said. “Biblically, Nehemiah called officials into account about some things that were going on in their community.”

The event’s setup looked different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping people in their cars or on their phones.

But, the purpose remained the same, calling local leaders to action.

This year B.U.I.L.D., a group of community members from 26 different congregations, focused on three main issues including violent crimes, affordable housing, and discipline in schools.

Each area has inequities that have only worsened during the pandemic.

“We’ve had to shelter in and it just really highlights and pronounces inequities that go on,” Reverend Owens said. “Usually if there is an inequity, things like COVID kind of bring it to the surface.”

So, this year the call to action rang even louder like the horns honking in Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary’s parking lot showing the community’s support.

“I think that people have had this experience of the pandemic and the inequalities in the city that it’s brought out and really don’t want to go back to normal but want to really plan the future,” Father Dan Noll said.

Local leaders like council members, school board members, and Mayor Linda Gorton listened and responded to the group’s concerns and possible solutions.

Focusing on violent crimes, Mayor Gorton said B.U.I.L.D. is right to be concerned about the recent violence in the community.

In a statement, she said the group asked her to endorse and fund the National Network for Safe Communities Group Violence Intervention plan.

But Mayor Gorton said she has concerns and wants more feedback.

“In practice, Group Violence Intervention has the potential to single out young African American males in a negative way,” Gorton said. “In a time where racial tensions have increased across the country, I do not want to do anything that could potentially put more strain on those relationships.”

More than 1,300 households registered for the event filling the parking lot and the Zoom meeting where the event was streamed.

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