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Tamarind community gets through summer of peace after deadly one last year

Posted at 10:50 PM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 00:25:31-04

On Monday when kids in the Tamarind community of West Palm Beach go back to school, they won't be mourning the loss of a classmate. 

"Our children don’t have to go to school traumatized by gun violence," said Ricky Aiken with Inner City Innovators. "Think about around this time last year there was over 11 - 12 murders in a mile 2 mile radius and this year beginning June 1st there have been done."

Aiken and Earl Buchannon lost their friend, 19-year-old Johnny Davis, last summer, gunned down in the Tamarind neighborhood. 

"Johnny he wasn’t about all the violence and that stuff he was actually about the right things," said Buchannon.

Buchannon joined inner city innovators because of Johnny. 

"We’re going to work with city leaders, we’re going to work with community members to make sure that the summer is no longer plagued by gun violence," said Aiken. 

Peace marches organized by the Inner City Innovators back in June aimed to set the tone for the summer. Aiken says he's noticed police are around engaging with the community all the time now, not just when crime happens. 

"I get out there and walk the streets and know that people feel okay about talking to me or walking up to me and telling me things," said Sergeant Regina Bell, West Palm Beach Police Department.

Sergeant Bell says police officers have built relationships with the local adults and children. 

"It has taken a village and this village has finally realized that we can work together as a team," said Sergeant Bell. 

Events like the annual youth summit have given local children the opportunity to see brighter futures ahead. This month Earl will start college. 

"I'm trying to show them that the streets is not the only way out you can go to school, get your diploma, get a job," added Buchannon. 

On Monday, Ricky Aiken will join city commissioners Corey Neering along with a group of 20 men to welcome and clap for kids returning to school. 

To join the movement you can email Commissioner Neering at NeeringC@yahoo.com