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Peace Walk Marchers React to Violent February: “Enough is Enough”

One march organizer, a young woman who lost two family members to gang violence, said "We need to be the new Martin Luther Kings because he’s not here now, someone has to"

Published on Thursday, February 27, 2014 | 5:22 am

Dozens of community members and city officials gathered Wednesday evening for a Pasadena Peace Walk beginning at Jackie Robinson Park initiated by four young women who said “enough is enough” in response to the increased violence in Pasadena over recent weeks.

The organizers said their small initiative may have no impact on the violence makers but could become restore some hope and faith to the broader community.

Growing up in Northwest Pasadena, Laurie Cardenas’ family was the recipient of cross fire. No one in her family was involved in a gang, yet both her cousin and uncle were shot and killed due to gang violence.

“Especially since all this recent violence started happening, I believe it’s important for young people like me to say that we do have a voice and our voice does matter. We want to instill hope in our community if they have been discouraged by all the violence,” 21-year-old Cardenas said.

With signs and candles the crowd marched up and down Fair Oaks to take a stand for bringing peace and hope into the neighborhood.

“I’ve been struggling with this since sophomore year of high school and it’s hurt me and it’s not right and we need to speak up. We want to come together all different races from all different walks. We need to stand together as one. We need to be the new Martin Luther Kings because he’s not here now so someone has to do it,” Cardenas said.

Cardenas was encouraged by the support and backing shown by Deputy Chief Darryl Qualls and Police Chief Phillip Sanchez who were both in attendance of the peace gathering.

“We have been hit with a series of tragedies in this last week, three murders, a stabbing, three suicides,” Pastor Eric Johnson said. “What’s not ok is to do nothing about it.”

19-year-old Alexis Garretson said she was astonished at how one hour of planning could create such a ripple effect.

“We wanted to have a forum for people to come together and grieve together and remind people there is hope in our community and there’s another way besides violence,” nineteen-year-old Alexis Garretson said. “We have a choice to either hate the people who hurt us or love the people who hurt us.”

Longtime supporter of peace in Pasadena including leading the gun buy back initiative last year, Jill Shook came to cheer on the four organizers whom she says she has known since they were young.

“I can’t believe how proud I am of them. I had the joy of recruiting them several years ago to be in the Stars program, they were just little. So to see them publicly talking about loving our enemies and doing the hard thing, that’s how we bring peace. It brings me great joy,” Shook said.

The peace walk drew support from the Pasadena Police Department and several city council field representatives.

“This is an exceptional grassroots effort. The reduction of violence is a community effort and a policing effort; it’s that joint collaborative care, concern and hope to create a future for our young people so they can aspire to do great things and the first pillar of that is safety. And the police can’t do it alone,” Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez said.

Sanchez said he would supports all efforts that are genuine to reduce violence and wants to sustain these efforts so that violence reduction is constantly a collaborative effort.

“We need to create an environment where people can seek out hope and seek out help rather than taking their own life or rather than taking another life because of predatory behavior or anger or injustice,” Sanchez said.

Cardenas reinforced at the end “Were not trying to fix you were just trying to love you.” She reminded the crowd that loving someone who hurts you is not easy, but it’s the only way to real improvement of the neighborhood.

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