Amidst the memorials for the World Trade Center tragedies on September 11 Southwest Detroit threw its own march and vigil for victims of violence in Detroit.
With people who lost friends and family members to gun violence in Detroit stood several community and non-profit groups, all working toward solutions to end violence in the city. It Takes a Village, 1-800-speakup, Crime Stoppers, Detroit Coalition Against Violence were all at the march. Corner Pocket Lounge donated bottles of water to the cause as well.
There was an amazing amount of support from other neighborhoods too. “Even though we don’t live in Southwest Detroit, we love Southwest Detroit,” Malik Shabazz, a Detroit resident, says. “We came to stand with our brothers and sisters, Hispanic and Chicano. The violence is affecting all of us Black, White, and Brown.”
One thing heard over and over again was the sentiment that the state of the city, whether it declines or improves, is all interconnected. “Even though we don’t live in Southwest Detroit, we love southwest Detroit.” Shabazz continues, “There is one Detroit. What happens in one part of Detroit affects all of Detroit.”
Brenda Hill, who lost her 22-year-old son to gang violence in Southwest, agrees. “This is Detroit. We’re all one. We come from one mother. That’s why were here today.”
This was at the core of Robert Louis’ vision when he started at the It Takes a Village organization, which provides student enrichment programs and support for their families. “We try to get with a lot of organizations to let them know that we need to work together for the city,” he says. “There are no boundary lines. I’m from Northwest Detroit, but I’m coming over here to help out southwest because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Whenever someone calls for help, you help.”
So neighbors, city and region wide, joined together on September 11 all dressed in lily white, a universal symbol, they say, for peace. The rally started in Patton Park and made its way down Vernor Hwy to Clark Park for the candle lit vigil.
Barry Ross, founder and director of Detroit Coalition Against Violence, was proud of the number of people who came out to the September 11 March, but says that there is more to be done to prevent violence in the city. “We need people to come out of their homes, come out onto their porches and turn on the lights,” he insists. “Every street in the city needs to have a block club and every person needs to report crime when they see it.” The way he sees it, getting to know your neighbors is of crucial importance when it comes to combatting all sorts of crime.
Although tears were shed for loved ones lost to violence, the night concluded with a sense of hope. “I’ll leave you with this,” Shabazz says, “Love can destroy hate. Love can solve all this.”
Photo credits: Karpov the Wrecked Train