Monday, June 21, 2004

City celebrates Day of Peace

Event calls attention to violence

By Maggie Downs
Enquirer staff writer

Andrew Williams remembers when a thousand people came together as a community, filled with love.

It was the funeral of his nephew, Raemone Williams, who was gunned down in the West End in April.

"I'd like to see that love shown on a daily basis, not just when somebody passes," he said.

Michael Gordon bends down to give his 1 year old daughter, Shani'yah, a kiss during Day of Peace at the Ritz Nightclub.
(Sarah Conard photo)
Andrew Williams, who owns the Ritz Nightclub in Bond Hill, paired with barber J. Black of Image Makers barbershop to start Unified Black Men, a group that aims to open communication within the black male community. Sunday they hosted a Father's Day celebration at the nightclub.

"We want to give everyone some different, more positive ways of spending time together," Black said.

The celebration was also part of the citywide Day of Peace, led by Vice Mayor Alicia Reece. The day was marked by 50 churches and ministers preaching peace. Cincinnati Human Relations Commission monitors distributed 30,000 flyers. And some wore black ribbons in remembrance of those who died at the hands of violence.

"People always say, 'Rest in peace,' " Reece said. "We're trying to give a message that you can live in peace."

So far this year there have been 37 homicides in Cincinnati, which is five more than this time last year. Last year, 75 people were slain - a 26-year high.

A father of five Shawn Kelley, 32, of Avondale, attended the gathering at the Ritz with three of his children. He was there in remembrance of one of his friends, who was killed recently downtown.

"We have to take this city back over," Kelley said.

Steve Reece, father of the vice mayor, spoke to young people there about becoming successful entrepreneurs. The elder Reece is the owner and founder of Reece and Reece Executive Suites and several other businesses.

The Day of Peace is a necessity, said radio personality Chris Coleman of 100.9 WIZF-FM.

"Six months into the year, and the violence is already out of hand," he said. "But maybe a day of no violence will turn into two days, then maybe three, then a week.

"If you can keep peace for a little while, why not more?"



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