Meridian, Miss. Unity, peace, harmony, and oneness, this was the message several residents of the community preached on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to take the streets back. Vehicles stretching as far as the eye can see paraded through the streets of Meridian in an attempt to get the message out.
"The people that saw us in the parade that came out, I was stunned at them driving down the road and coming to join us," said child development worker Camora Smith. "We may not have known each other, but we felt like they were a part and that we were all here standing for the same purpose, young and old."
Pastor Betty Alford of Love City Fellowship of Meridian, says to achieve this goal one must take the solution where it first began, on the streets.
"The reason I came out to the streets is because the violence is happening in the streets, it's not happening in the churches," said Alford. "Churches have to pull together and take Jesus, take the Gospel, and take God where the violence is happening."
Many on hand said they could already feel the love and unity flowing through the park and hope it extends into the community. With some people in attendance knowing first hand what it's like to live a life of crime, they are hoping the life they now lead will be an example worth following.
"We have stopped. If we can stop and put our weapons down, come together, and live in this community and be safe, then they have the opportunity to look at us as leaders now and follow our patterns," said Alford.
"Me being a former gang member myself, I want to let them know they can lay their weapons down," said Open Door Ministries founder Mary Johnson. "We're not having it, we are together as one."
Members of "Taking it to the Streets" plan to meet again next Sunday morning at 11 o'clock at the corner of 13th Street and 34th Avenue. The group will then travel to Velma Young Park where food and beverages will be served.