Marchers step up for peace in southwest Detroit

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Detroit – — The words on Karen Gates’ white cardboard sign, decorated with a red balloon shaped into a heart, made three simple requests.

“Love One Another,” “Stop the Violence” and “Hugs Not Slugs.”

Gates, a member of The Ark, a support group for homeless people in southwest Detroit, set up a folding chair in Roosevelt Park, across from the old Michigan Central Depot train station off Michigan Avenue and West Vernor. She and a friend, Diane Labadie of Shelby Township, awaited the last leg of the March for Peace, which started miles away at Clark and Patton parks on the city’s southwest side.

“We are out here every Saturday, but today it was especially important for us to show up,” she said. “Too many people getting beat up. Too many dying.”

Gates and Labadie regularly pass out snacks, socks and sometimes just advice to people in need.

The March for Peace, sponsored by Detroit Southwest Pride, a community outreach program, drew several dozen marchers along with many supporters who followed them along the route.

Labadie said whether teenage gang disputes, dope deals gone bad or the beating of the homeless, the damage is the same.

“I don’t care who you are or where you live, you know somebody who has been touched by violence. I don’t care if only a handful of people show up today. If you somehow convince one person not to pull a trigger, that’s one life saved.

“You have to do something. We have to start somewhere. Together we can stop the violence. But it takes all of us, together.

“This is a good place to start.”

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