SPRINGDALE (KFSM)- Hundreds gathered at Luther Grove Park in Springdale on Tuesday (April 21) for a Peace Walk in response to a recent outbreak of gang violence in the city.
“We definitely want this to be the first step towards something bigger,” said Peace Walk organizer Maribel Tapia. “We don't want to be labeled as gangbangers. We want to show the community that we have good kids.”
Tapia said the event was a way to show unity within the community following a media conference where city leaders announced how they plan to put an end to the violence.
“We all want peace. Nobody wants violence. That's our message,” Tapia said. “We want a peaceful community because this is where our kids are living, this is where we are living, and we are not going to stand for violence.”
The walk went through neighborhoods affected by several recent shootings. According to police, all of the incidents were gang-related. The crowd stopped at two locations where teenagers were shot and killed. A moment of silence was held for each of them.
Jimmy Rodriguez, 20, was shot and killed in a drive-by on April 11 in front of a home on Savage Street, according to police. Four suspects, including a 13-year-old boy, have been charged in connection with the deadly shooting.
“I'm a retired teacher and some of these community members are my former students,” said Cindy Edwards. “[The walk] definitely shows unity.”
Others, like Kelly Carithers, added the walk shows city leaders the community supports their efforts to put an end to gang activity.
“It shows a force of strength and peace in our community, because Springdale is not a violent place,” Carithers said. “And, we just wanted to show support for all of these young people.”
Marchers also passed around donation boxes to collect money to cover the funeral costs for the shooting victims.