Youngsters set pace for peace on streets

2014-05-10T19:41:00Z 2014-05-11T00:28:08Z Youngsters set pace for peace on streetsBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

On a somber day for Gary, a dozen young people with snazzy white drums and cymbals set a new beat for the city as they marched along 15th Avenue Saturday in a Walk for Peace On Our Streets.

From Tolleston Park to Mount Zion A.M.E. Church on Tyler Street, people came out to snap pictures and give the McKinley Boys Drumline encouragement as it led a small crowd of other young people and adults on the anti-violence march.

"Gary needs for someone to step up the plate for it," said drummer K.A.V.E.T. Grooms, 16. "We need some type of enclosure where we feel safe."

It was a somber day for Gary in the wake of two Thursday shootings, one that claimed the life of Clifton Morrow Jr., 34, of Gary, in the 900 block of Taney Street and the other the brazen afternoon shooting of Alvis Moore, 20, of Gary, in the parking lot of the McDonald's restaurant on Fifth Avenue.

A second anti-violence march was put on Saturday by Concerned Citizens Against Violence in Gary in the Glen Park neighborhood.

"We know anti-violence marches won't totally eliminate violence," said Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram, standing in a parking lot at Tolleston Park as the drumline warmed up. "But they bring awareness to this issue."

Ingram said he would be going to the funerals of both the men shot on Thursday. He noted that Indianapolis Police Chief Richard Hite also was attending the funeral at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church for Morrow, to whom he is related. 

"Violence hurts everyone, even a police chief's family," Ingram said.

Funeral services were just starting at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist at 11 a.m. as speakers two blocks away took to the front steps of Mount Zion A.M.E., some to tell how violence had affected their lives but still delivering a message of hope.

Pastor Therese Bibbs told the small crowd her father, a mill worker and good man, had been killed by gun violence decades ago. Ciara Ross, an Indiana State University student, said her older brother was claimed by gun violence last year.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told the crowd police are doing all they can to stem the violence but they can only do so much. It's up to the community to help in bringing peace to Gary's streets and she held the young drummers up as an example of how that can be done.

"If you are involved in something productive, it's hard to shoot and kill someone, it's hard to abuse alcohol or do drugs, or any of the things that lead to violence in our community," she said.

After the mayor, Deputy Police Chief Larry McKinley told the young people he had already talked with McKinley Boys Drumline founder Aaron McKinley about partnering with the Police Athletic League to up their game and help more young people.

"It felt good today," said drummer Zack Diaz, 12. "Because now people want to know what the McKinley Boys Drumline is and what we're doing to help. It helps get our message across."

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