BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Approximately 200 people gathered in an empty lot, on the corner of Detroit and Central Ave on Sunday, July 10. They listened to brief talks about ending gang violence, and the recent shootings of unarmed black men, by police, in Minnesota and Louisiana.
But the purpose of the gathering was to specifically address ending gang violence in Toledo.
The event, “2Mile March and Rally 2 Stop Gang Violence,” had those who gathered, walk south on Detroit Ave., towards Indiana Ave., two miles, where activities for kids, such as a bouncy house, and a dunk tank, were set up. In addition, free food and water was provided to those who embarked on the two mile journey.
“We want to see an end to gang violence, and stop police brutality,” Minister Chris McBrayer organizer and founder of the event, told The Toledo Journal. “Within two years, we’re aiming to make a significant reduction of gangs, and gang violence within our community,” he said.
“We have to change the mindset of those young people who are joining gangs. We have to get them to see that, engaging in destructive behavior minimizes their value,” Minister McBrayer said.
He did speak of the nation-wide shootings of unarmed black men, by police, and said he was thankful that those incidents hadn’t occurred in Toledo.
“Toledo Police and Chief George Kral have done a good job with us by helping to end gang violence, and build a relationship between the police and our community,” Minister McBrayer said. “I believe that relationship, that repo ire between them, and us, is the reason we haven’t had a situation here in Toledo,” he said.
Also walking the two miles, was retired Toledo Police Sargent, Anita Madison. “Even in my retirement, the issue of ending gangs and gang violence is dear to me. Any organization that works to stop such activity, is an organization worth being involved in,” she said.
Sgt. Madison mentioned the ongoing effort of the TPD’s various outreach programs that help establish a bridge between the police and the community. She pointed to TPD’s summer fitness program, as well as their upcoming basketball game that has police, and students playing against one another; both of which, she said, helps continue to build positive bridges within the community.
The event attracted other community activists, including Shanez Henry Allen, of BRAVE, Brothers and Sisters Rally Against Violence Every day. “Whenever an organization puts on a positive event, other organizations should support them,” he said.
“We’re taking ownership in what’s going on within our community,” Mr. Allen said. “If we expect the police, or any group of people to respect us, we have to first, respect ourselves, and that’s what this event is about; respecting ourselves, and working on resolving the problem of gang violence,” he said.
Jessica Temple carried a sign with the faces of unarmed African Americans, killed by police; including Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile.
“I’m walking because the violence has to stop, and it starts with us,” she said. “We have to use our voice to make a difference. We have to jeep fighting until it becomes a reality,” Ms. Temple said.
She pointed to the fact of how many people want to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement by saying, All Lives Matter. “Our people, who are unarmed, are the ones being killed by police for no reason; that’s why the emphasis is on Black Lives Matter,” she said.