The Highlands Coalition Peace March was a success! Youth and community leaders gathered at the Ford School to march down to City Hall on Tuesday, October 15th. There was a slight chill in the air, coupled with wind, and the sky seemed to threaten of rain. In spite of the weather, everyone was front and center, ready to march with their peace signs.
During the walk, the peace chants drew residents out their home and onto the sidewalks. Rush hour traffic halted for the passing marchers and children on school buses chimed in with the crowd. The entire Lynn community was very receptive to the display of unity and exuberance that flowed forth from the group.
Upon arrival at Lynn City Hall, Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy commenced the peace address with an inspiring message for young people. Antonio Gutierrez, Street Worker for Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), shared testimonials about his involvement with the gangs of New York City. He emphasized the importance of unity and reminded young people that violence is not the solution. Additionally, representatives from H.A.W.C and Straight Ahead Ministries talked about their mission and invited youth to become more involved with their programming. Each speaker spoke about the importance of after school programs and keeping kids off the street. A few youth leaders closed out the ceremony with remarks about how they experienced violence, and as a reward for their service, they were rewarded a fifty dollar certificate.
Following the speakers, several youth agencies hosted a resource fair in the lobby of Lynn City Hall. Local organizations like: Girls Incorporated of Lynn, Youth and Family Services, and the Lynn Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People provided information about their programs and services. Youth attendees swarmed the lobby of Lynn City Hall, and left with their hands full of information.