Black leaders call attention to monument

January 20, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Several black leaders called attention Monday night to vandalism to a Martin Luther King Jr. monument in town, and began looking at ways to fight crime in the neighborhood.

Hubert Smith said letters have been torn from the red brick monument, which was erected about five years ago to honor the slain civil rights leader.

Smith and several others replaced about eight of the letters during the day Monday before holding a community meeting that night at Ebenezer Baptist Church to bring attention to the vandalism. About a dozen people attended the meeting.


The roughly 4-foot monument is located beside the West Martin Street church.

Smith said he would like to see the mounument encased to protect it, and also wants to talk to Martinsburg City Police Chief Wayne Cleveland and City Councilman Oden Barrett about setting up a Neighborhood Watch group for the community.

"We have to take our community back," Smith said.

Smith, a former president of the Berkeley County NAACP, said he is still involved in his community. "We're still in the civil rights business," he said. "We're just back as citizens."

Smith and Nathaniel Wright, minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church, also said there has been a problem with drug dealing around the church.

Wright said it is "absolutely ridiculous" that there is drug dealing so close to his church.

"I think the problem is, so few people are willing to take a stand," said Wright.

Martinsburg City Police officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.

The Herald-Mail Articles