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OLGC Draws Attention to Camden's Murder Rate with Sobering Display

Parishioners created the display—each cross representing one of Camden's 60 murder victims this year, a new record for the beleaguered city.

On a map, Moorestown and Camden are less than a dozen miles apart.

On the cultural and social spectrum however, they couldn’t be further from each other.

The former was named America’s “Best Place to Live” a few years back, while the latter was dubbed the most dangerous city in the country three years ago (and has ranked in the top 10 for many more).

With that in mind, parishioners at Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) got together recently to erect a visual reminder of the plight of their neighbor city—which broke a longstanding record for homicides this year—by planting 60 wooden crosses in front of the church, each one representing a murder victim.

Deacon Tom Kolon, who heads OLGC’s Respect Life Committee, said the display is a spin-off of similar arrangements spread out throughout Camden by the Rev. Jeff Putthoff, executive director of Hopeworks, a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged youth in Camden. Putthoff occasionally visits OLGC.

Kolon said the point of the OLGC display is to both raise awareness and motivate people to get involved.

“We want to encourage people to get involved and not just say, ‘Oh, well, this is the way it is,’” he said. “The issue is, politicians everywhere, on both sides of the aisle, are ignoring these issues all over the nation. But in Camden, this is 12 miles away right in our backyard.”

Despite its proximity, many Moorestonians are blissfully unaware of the senseless violence that plagues Camden daily, according to Dave Lyzinski, a congregant who made the crosses.

“I’m pretty sure they’re totally unaware of how bad things are,” he said. “For me, I wanted to do it because I wanted to learn more and help other people learn more.”

Members of the church’s youth group painted the crosses, adding the names of each of the victims. They were placed on the lawn the day before Thanksgiving.

Kolon said the crosses will remain on the lawn until the church’s nativity scene is put on display, at which point the crosses will be moved to the prayer garden, where they’ll remain until Lent. The church will then hold a prayer ceremony and distribute the crosses to the families of the murder victims.

Those who are interested in getting involved can visit Hopeworks’ Volunteer page to explore various ways to help, from fundraising to mentoring.

To read the Rev. Putthoff's and Deacon Kolon's statement on the situation in Camden, click here.

Don November 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM
It would have been interesting to have innocent bystanders crosses in white and those involved in criminal activities in black. Play with fire you are going to get burned.
Our Town November 27, 2012 at 03:37 PM
So they got what's coming to them? How much of Camden's problems are Camden's versus problems stemming from a suburban thirst for Camden's easy supply of drugs? While it's fine to call attention to the outcome (murders), perhaps it would be more productive to begin addressing the underlying problems that result in these deaths, the breakdown or total lack of any family unit, the sense of abandonment, the lack of opportunity, etc... We tend to make ourselves feel better by praying for Camden or throwing money at the schools, but none of that addresses Camden's underlying problems of loss of self, loss of family, lack of community, lack of responsibility, and that lack of drive to do anything to change the status quo.
Kim November 27, 2012 at 03:39 PM
OLGC's heart is in the right place, but Camden's murder rate is that high because it's a city comprised almost entirely of criminals. Sorry, but I don't really believe there's much that anyone in Moorestown (or any neighboring town) can do to help.
George November 27, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Nice heartless comments. Easy to say they're all criminals so there's nothing you can do. The cross in the first picture says age 2. As for what Moorestown (specifically could do)...stop having Moorestown kids drive to Camden to buy drugs.
Our Town November 27, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Actually, Camden's crime rate for reported violent and property crimes equates to 5,471 crimes in 2011. The city has approximately 77,344 residents so assuming that all reported crimes were perpetrated by actual Camden residents and assuming that no single individual committed multiple crimes, we can extrapolate that just over 7% of the population are criminals. I am not sure, but I don't think 7% translates into a population comprised "almost entirely of criminals" but what do I know? Certainly we can assume that at least some of the crimes are perpetrated by non-residents and that some of the criminals committed multiple crimes, but that only lowers the figure. This is not to portray Camden as a safe, fun loving, Moorestown-esque town, but merely to point out that Camden is a neighbor in bad shape and that blanket statements about the town being made of criminals does nothing but further the sense of despair that many have about Camden. Is there anything that can be done? It's debatable and the suggestions are few and far between. No matter what happens, Camden cannot be changed through outside pressure alone. Only Camden will change Camden and I am not sure many of the residents can see any silver lining on the black cloud in which they live.
Michelle November 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” ― Aristotle
Pete November 27, 2012 at 07:01 PM
That would be about 15 violent crimes PER DAY, and one murder per week. Just saying.........
Janet Murray November 28, 2012 at 04:15 PM
and who should be the judge and jury? I am offended by your comment, there are so many victims in Camden, it is a complicated issue that is rarely black and white.

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