NEWPORT (WATE) - Thousands of people in Cocke County rallied Sunday to take a stand against drugs.
The message was loud and clear - just say no. In Newport, nearly 2,000 people marched from the courthouse to Cocke County High School for the ‘March Forth' event to combat drug problems in the area.
"This community is like a lot of communities," said Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes. "It has a lot of good people, but it does have a serious drug addiction problem, mainly with prescription drugs."
The march and rally were organized by local churches and the theme was ending the county's drug problem through religion.
"He will answer and he will heal our land. I'm expecting God to heal on Cocke County today," preached one of the numerous speakers at Sunday's event.
Through song, prayer and speeches, the community braved the heat and joined together to send a message.
"Going down the road, it brought tears to my eyes as I realized we were joining together against a common cause and that's to defeat these evil things in our area," exclaimed Pastor Wayne Wyatt.
Drugs are a possible motive in the recent death of a young couple in Cocke County and Sheriff Fontes explained that's a prime example of why Sunday's rally was necessary.
"This is a close community and if you live here, you are not going to be a victim of a crime unless you are involved in the bar scene or the drug scene," he said.
The sheriff understands the rally just skims the surface of the problem - but says it's a start.
"We are taking back our community," said Sheriff Fontes. "We will not tolerate drug dealers selling things and living in our community, we will do everything in our power to prosecute them and stop individuals from selling things that are destroying lives."