Osborn University High School
Small protest targets violence in Detroit
BY MATT HELMS • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • August 6, 2009
A group of mostly young people fed up with the toll of gun violence on Detroit took to the streets to protest today on the city’s east side.
Many of the youths work with Detroit’s Neighborhood Service Organization on programs aimed at preventing gun violence, substance abuse and other social ills among young people and were stunned to learn that the brutality had hit close to home.
A 15-year-old girl involved with the NSO’s youth initiatives program lost her 19-year-old brother to gunfire Saturday in Detroit, said Tavarus Lewis, 17, a peer educator in the program. The girl lives a couple of blocks from where the group was protesting.
“We’re out here supporting her and trying to stop the gun violence in the community,” Lewis said as he and others held up signs and drivers passing by honked their horns on Mack Avenue near Yorkshire.
“We’re all pretty close,” Lewis said of the young people in the NSO group. “When we promote for it not to happen and it happens, it hurts.”
“This happened to someone close to us, so we were shocked and saddened,” added Gaoia Vang, 17, also a youth program peer educator. “It sucks. It totally sucks.”
The protest came after a 13-year-old girl in a separate incident was shot in the head in an altercation when a group of people in a car threw gang taunts and then opened fire on about four or five friends walking near 7 Mile and Ryan in Detroit on Wednesday night.
Detroit Police said they were still investigating the shooting, and the girl was in critical condition today at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
Protester Tyrone Owens, 49, of Harper Woods said he was there to stand up against gun violence that’s sending a chill through the city.“It’s very shocking and it’s senseless,” Owens said. “It’s got to stop.”
Contact MATT HELMS: firstname.lastname@example.org.
They Aren’t Going Anywhere
Ladies and Gentlemen of Detroit, this is just the beginning. Over the past several weeks NSO’s Youth Initiatives Project has been protesting against gun violence in our community. There is no need to be silent anymore, and through our protesting on main streets such as Gratiot and Van Dyke, the honks of many supporters’ shows that were not alone.
I want to express how important the participation of the community is and what steps we need to take in order to make our community a safer environment to live in. It is no longer safe to walk down the street. It is no longer safe to go to the park. It is no longer safe to visit the local store. What is our community coming to? I hate being restricted of something just because someone isn’t responsible enough to know that children are in the area. Gun violence is killing my peers, but in the place of my fallen peers, I will overcome the statistics of being the next victim.
I will take the stand in my community of educating others on the effects of not making sure a crime is being prevented. I will educate my community on the importance of staying in school and obtaining an education that will enable them to go to heights above the street corner or the gas station. Community, it’s time for you to start doing the same. Knowledge is the key to success, and in order to successfully overcome gun violence we must overlook turning the other cheek to what we know is wrong and start facing it straight forward. I am urging you as a community to take back your community and help us not only as neighbors but as family to protest against gun violence in the community. Honk your horns when you see our signs, they aren’t going anywhere.