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New Jersey Community Stands up to Violence

A Triple-Shooting Sparks a Love-Not-Hate Movement and March in East Orange, NJ hosted by rap icon Vinnie Brown with the Rev. Sharpton invited to speak

Long before the tragic murders that shattered their peace, Deborah, and Dy-Shawn Simpkins were committed to providing kids with alternatives to street violence. The New Jersey couple's after-school programs and day care centers have created safe havens for over 650 Irvington kids annually for the last nine years alone. Additionally, their community outreach has been active in the region for over 15 years.

Despite such passionate devotion, the nation's violence has grown exponentially. This was never more apparent to the couple than when their own son, Dy-Shawn Simpkins Jr., 18, along with their nephew Kee-Ayre Griffin, 29, were killed in a triple shooting in East Orange. The senseless murders interrupted the promising lives of Simpkins, Jr. who had a promising athletic career at Norfolk State University (NSU); and Griffin, a former student athlete at Temple University where he played football after attending Saint Peter's Prep.

In dealing with the hateful killings, it was the East Orange community's support that showed the couple the tool to fight the trauma. The entire NSU football team arrived to join in a massive outpouring of love at Simpkins Jr.’s funeral. Now everyone is asked to participate in a march with the theme, Love and Not Hate March & Movement, as the core message. Organized by Simpkins's own non-profit of seven years, the GAP Program (Gang Alternative Program), and other nonprofits collectively known as Community United As One, the groups, along with the title sponsor, the East Orange City Council, will use the march as a kickoff to an annual event that brings awareness to the ongoing violence epidemic.

The march will culminate in a musical segment where Dy-Shawn Simpkins, Sr. will perform the song, Seeds in the Field that he recorded with his son before the tragedy. Simpkins Sr. will release the spiritually potent music as Deacon Don DyDy, as a beacon to lure the hip hop generation toward a holier message.

Invited guests include the Reverend Al Sharpton and a lineup of pastors and political luminaries: Ted Green Council President and newly elected Mayor of East Orange, NJ; Reverend Timothy Huff; Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss; and, Pastor Jerry Smith. Rap icon Vinnie Brown aka Uncle Vinnie from Grammy award winning hip hop trio Naughty by Nature is set to host.

The march will commence on Saturday, August 12th at 8:00 am beginning at Hollywood and Central Avenues in East Orange, NJ and ending at Oval Park in East Orange, NJ. From there, all will celebrate the Community United As One from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm with events, music, food, youth activities, vendors, sports, back to school giveaways and more!

Updates will be made via Simpkins' Facebook social media account at https://www.facebook.com/deacondondydy.simpkins

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