KALAMAZOO, Mich. (June 13, 2014) — A community wide effort aimed at curbing violence as we head into the Summer months is hitting the streets in Kalamazoo.
Part of the push is the shooting death of 13-year-old Michael Day who was shot and killed on Memorial Day. It’s a tragedy that put another teen in custody, charged with the murder.
The group from Galilee Baptist Church marched several blocks on Friday evening before holding a prayer vigil.
“When a child is born and when they are young, they are impressionable. So there are open then to the right kind of stimulus if you will, and if you provide that at a younger age, right now what we got to do is show them a different way because they were shown the wrong way first,” said Pastor Addis Moore.
For the past eight years, members of the church have conducted a prayer march in the Summer months, taking a stance that one more life lost is one too many.
“We’ve got to try and stand in the gap where these family dynamics have changed. Where there’s a lot of single parent homes. We’ve got to be that other parent for the individuals in the community,” said Pastor Lenzy Bell.
Leaders with the church said that discipline and guidance starts inside the home.
“Lack of direction, lack of parenting and leadership in most of our homes. You are going to get a different type of individual that showing up on our streets and our schools,” said Pastor Bell.
With increased crime during the warmer months, community members said at risk teens in the area want structure, and without it they can easily go astray.
“Someone without purpose is a dangerous individual because they don’t think twice about hitting an old lady across the head, breaking in someone’s home or car because they don’t have a purpose,” said Pastor Bell.
Residents said that poverty stricken families aren’t able to pay for programs to keep their kids off the streets while out on Summer break.
“Some families can’t afford summer camps. There’s programs that would kind of keep them engaged throughout the Summer and so their parents are working. often times 2 jobs, 3 jobs,” said Pastor Michael Scott.
Galilee Baptist Church said it will march again at 6:30 p.m. on the second Friday of July and August.