Miami Gardens officials, youth groups team up for peace walk against gun violence

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida community came together this weekend to bring attention to gun violence.

The City of Miami Gardens and Community Youth Against Violence hosted a peace walk on Saturday morning in partnership with local youth groups.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said he hopes the walk will encourage local leaders to advocate for ending gun violence and saving lives.

“This is important, because this is our preachers and our kids, coming together to actually walk around the community,” said Gilbert, “walk through the streets of the community to bring attention to the fact that we — the kids, the preachers, the city, the community, the officers — we don’t like violence.”

Participants gathered at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Center and began the walk from there.

“They have had to sacrifice a whole lot of what they had to do today,” said Lorenzo Johnson Sr., the founder of Community Youth Against Violence. “I had a lot of folks who said to me, ‘I’ve got to do to this,’ but they want to sacrifice to be here today because they feel as strong as we are.”

Johnson said the organization aims to put an end to juvenile crime in South Florida.

“Sometimes we’re captured by the few that will do bad things. I’m captured by the extraordinary number of kids out here that woke up on a Saturday morning to say, ‘Hey, listen, we’re not with this, we’re not with this, and we demand that it stop,'” he said.

Attendees included children, parents, local activists and community leaders.

“We have a team, we have over two or three hundred kids that are tired of what’s going on in our community,” said Johnson. “We’ve gotta keep punting at it. We’ve gotta keep punting at it until we weaken it. The key thing is weakening it. We’re always going to have to have crime, but we just want to put a weakness to it.”

As the third largest city in Miami-Dade County, officials said, Miami Gardens sees this violence first hand.

Gilbert said peace walks like these, that involve the whole community, are necessary in the fight against gun violence.

“This is how things actually happen. We reduce violence by every part of the community being convicted and committed to doing that,” he said. “From the police department, to members of the clergy, other city departments, our churches, our crime watches and now our kids. And so this is a great day.”

A 2018 survey shows more than half of residents in Miami see gun violence as a problem in their communities.

Officials at Saturday’s event said they are working on more projects and initiatives to help keep the streets safe.

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