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'Love thy neighbor' peace rally in downtown Columbia

A group of community members, church leaders and pastors rallied to end violence and inequality.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Saturday, the Prosper Strong Foundation hosted a peace rally in downtown Columbia. They invited neighbors, church members and faith leaders to help spread a message of unity. Before protesters marched here to the statehouse, they gathered for prayer at the courthouse.

“Lord we thank you for everyone that’s in attendance today. We pray for peace, we pray that it resonates in their soul today, Lord.” Travis Creech, founder of the Prosper Strong Foundation, led the group prayer before marching down Main Street.

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This is the third annual ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ rally. Creech says they’re rallying for senseless violence to stop.

“There have been so many murders and killings and just senseless violence. So, what we’re doing is trying to come together as a community to show that no matter your race, no matter your creed, religion, sex, no matter what you believe, we’re all human beings and we need to come together to better the world.”

Someone who knows about senseless violence all to well is Leteas Means. Her son is Amon Rice – the 17-year-old Lower Richland High School student and basketball player that was killed in 2018.

“You have to have faith,” Means says, “You have to believe in order to receive. So, with what I’m going through right now with the murder of my son, yes - my faith has been shaken. I’m human, I’m a mom, he’s my baby. Thru the mix of hurt and pain I still have faith that justice will be served.”

Means attended the rally to share her experience with the crowd. She hopes her message will inspire others to stop violence and put the guns down.

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“Whatever your belief is, whatever your religion is, if you believe within yourself that you can have a sense of peace, then God shines through you.” Creech says, “And when God shines through you, your light shines to the world and it shines to other people and it begins to rub off on each and every person. So what we want to do is let our light shine today. We want our goodness that we have deep inside to rub off and resonate with the world and that’s why we’re doing this today.”

Once at the State House, pastors and community leaders spoke at a microphone stand on the steps. Voter registration booths are also set up for people attending or just passing by.