A ‘Peace Smoke’ in Edison Brings a Community to Resources for Healing From Gun Violence
June 29, 2022
It was a Saturday afternoon peace smoke in the Edison neighborhood.
Kids were having a blast in the Elmo bounce house, the DJ was leading dancers in the “Cha-Cha Slide,” One Man and a Grill was filling the air with the smoke of about a ton of rib tips, hamburgers, chicken, and more.
The music stopped, and Kalamazoo City Commissioner Esteven Juarez took the mic to address the people at the Urban Alliance’s parking lot.
“How many of you have been affected by gun violence, raise your hand.”
Hands go up all over the parking lot.
“Most of them! If you live in this community, you’ve been affected by gun violence one way or another…. We want people to understand that gun violence is not OK. Gun violence is not OK in our community. If we don’t say something about it or do something about it, it’s going to continue to happen.”
Juarez himself had been on the wrong path — when he was growing up just around the block from where he spoke, on Washington Avenue, he could’ve either been a victim or a perpetrator of gun violence before he turned his life around. He didn’t mention that, but everyone in the close-knit community of people trying to end conflict in Edison knew his story.
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