Peace march to send message to stop the violence

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - An Avondale church is hosting a prayer caravan on Thursday morning that organizers hope will bring healing to the city.

The march begins at Church of the Living God in Avondale at 10 a.m. and will end at Fountain Square at about noon.

"People have really lost faith in all of the systems that this country and this world have to offer," said Pastor Ennis Tait of Church of the Living God.

The march comes in the wake of several confrontations with Cincinnati Police in the past few weeks.

One man who's worked in social services with some of the poorest in the city for the last 15 years says the confrontations are occurring simply because people are hurting.

"The shootings are just one piece of it. It's the most illustrative piece. But if you take away the guns, you still have a hurting community down here," says Reggie Brazzile, who works at CIRV, the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence.

He counsels people every day who want jobs, want to provide a better life for their families, and who don't see a viable path to getting there.

The recent headlines are hard to ignore...a 16 year-old shot and killed on Fountain Square after he aimed a gun at police, a 23 year-old aiming at officers who fired, but did not strike him.  Those were just since Saturday.

But Brazzile says if the community takes a step back, behind the headlines, they will see what the poorest people are facing day after day.

"The mentality that people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps is the reigning mentality from the people who can hand out funds. The problem with that mentality is, there are folks who just don't have bootstraps," he said.

Lack of jobs, lack of healthy diets, lack of safety all plague the toughest neighborhoods.

He doesn't condone gun violence, but Brazzile offers some insight into why it is happening.

"The frustration that we see now is boiling out of a population of have-nots....that makes for a 14, 15 year-old who's angry, who feels left out, who don't care anymore," said Brazzile.

The current economic downturn that has some people feeling strained has those who already had so little feeling completely crushed.

"If you could walk the streets on your own, and begin to see the devastating effect this economy is having on people. I've never seen it so poor," said Brazzile.

Brazzile called on the Cincinnati business sector to help solve one part of the problem.  So many of his clients have a criminal background.  He says those who have paid their debt to society, been vetted and readied for work, find it almost impossible to land a job.  After 9/11, he tells us, security concerns started eliminating everyone with a criminal past from getting jobs.  If there is nowhere willing to hire those who truly want a new start, Brazzile says, hopelessness sets in.  Violence usually comes next.

Brazzile and his colleagues walk the streets in the evenings and hand out water and juice to people.  He says people who want to do something to help can always contact CIRV at (513) 633-3800.

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