WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Building a better community and promoting peace. That was the message Thursday night in the Coleman Park neighborhood, in an effort to curb the violence.
It started with a prayer at the corner of 13th Street and Division Avenue and led to a Peace in the Streets march.
“The message is one of inclusion, they’re part of the whole,” said Rev. Bill Washington "This is building community, that’s what this is about, building community one block at a time."
West Palm Beach Police, city commissioners, and community members all walked as one in an effort to prevent and reduce crime.
“I think this is a great way that you can be out, you can engage the community. What’s better than having your feet right here on the sidewalk?” said City Commissioner Kelly Shoaf.
The walk has been part of the Mayor’s Village Initiative, an effort to improve the outcomes of young men living in Coleman Park, Pleasant City, and the Historic Northwest. But in the wake of a series of shootings last week and a wave of violence, Pastor Ronnie Perry says it’s even more timely.
“We have to come together and take ownership, I think that’s the only way we’re gonna deal with some of the challenges of the inner city,” Perry said.
West Palm Beach Police went door-to-door striking up a conversation, they handed out flyers and put signs in yards to empower and promote peace, but also to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.
“I think we have to come out together as residents with the police force and really touch the lives of the people who are here in the community and surround them with the resources they need at the time they need them,” Shoaf said.
"We want to show we care and call everyone to come together and say we do invest in a way that empowers these people," Perry said.
West Palm Beach Police say overall crime is down, and they credit new technology. Organizers say they realize these walks won’t solve all the problems, but they will build better relationships.
WPTV also reached out to Mayor-Elect Keith James who is set to take office next week. He says he supports the program and plans to keep the peace walks going.
.@WestPalmPD and community members are promoting ‘Peace in the Streets’ tonight as part of the Mayor’s Village Initiative. The goal: prevent and reduce youth violence. Participants say it’s especially timely after several shootings last week. @WPTV pic.twitter.com/vM0kOfaBnC— Ryan Hughes (@HughesWPTV) March 28, 2019