Two weeks ago, I went back to my old neighborhood of Hollis, Queens, to support the launch of the pilot program of the national Peacekeepers, an initiative that seeks to deter crime and violence by introducing a strong presence of community men into unstable neighborhoods to make their streets safe for women, children and seniors. I was inspired to fund the pilot program after the wave of youth violence that has engulfed our nation. I, like so many community members, am fed up.
First, it was the brutal death of 16 year old Derrion Albert in Chicago, who was clobbered over the head by a 2x4 in an after school melee. Then it was the killing of thirteen year old Kevin Miller in Hollis, an innocent, young man walking home from school who was shot in the back of the head from a bullet that was never meant for him... a passerby in someone else's gunfight, however the someone else happened also to be young, 16. Then it was the brutal gang rape of a seven year old in an empty apartment in Trenton, New Jersey. And there are countless others in between.
When I saw the creator of the movement Capt. Dennis and 200 men, in bright orange jackets, walking through my childhood neighborhood in Queens, I knew we had brought some hope to a situation that at times seemed hopeless. These men and some women walked /marched practicing ahimsa, dispensing love in the community. This yogic practice of non-violence, where community members exuded love to its own community members was so well received... no harmful thoughts or action could come back to them. We were there to spread love and just talk to the young people who stand on the corners idly for hours and days on end. And we were there to build a stronger relationship between our communities and those who are ordered to protect and serve them. Somewhere along the way, we have lost the relationship with the police that we had when I was growing up, when the police not only protected, but also served. The fear between the police and the community has alienated both groups from each other for many years now. The Peacekeepers can be the liaison between these two groups.
No more than a few hours after the launch occurred in Queens, we received phone calls from cities around the country asking to bring The Peacekeepers to their communities. This past weekend, we were welcomed into the City of Trenton by Mayor Douglas Palmer and many prestigious members of the community, after a horrifying incident of the gang raping of a seven year old rocked the city to its core. It was a powerful day as 1000 people showed up at a local community center to show support of The Peacekeepers and belief that the city could heal from this deep wound.
We are now pushing to make this program national, as the need is too great and the consequences of inaction are too severe. We will need partners, we will need funding, we will need the men and women to join and we will need a willingness of cities to work with us. What we have seen in Queens and Trenton already inspires us to move forward, because with love all things are possible.
For more information on The Peacekeepers please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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