“Parading up and down the street will do nothing.”
“You can march till the cows come home and it will have zero effect.”
“You can have all the little vigils you want and it will solve nothing.”
“No one can fix this problem except the people who live in those communities having all the problems.”
“I’m doing my part by staying out of the mess.”
These are just a few of the responses I got to my last blog asking for people to get involved and help find a solution to Little Rock’s escalating crime problem. As I mentioned in the post, too many people let “what happens over there, happen over there.” Too many people don’t give a damn.
I get the criticism that a walk won’t stop violence. I totally get it.
However, you’re looking at it wrong. It’s not about the walk.
The Victory Walk, as part of our Victory Over Violence campaign, is an opportunity to show our fellow citizens living in neighborhoods plagued by crime that they aren’t alone in their fight. There are people — in all parts of the city — who support them and are willing to dedicate their time to help find a solution.
If you go into these neighborhoods and talk to people, they’ll tell you no one cares about them. They feel alone. They feel isolated. At times, they feel desperate.
Following the last Victory Walk, I took the time to soak in what happened for the next two hours at Centennial Park. You saw strangers from different neighborhoods speaking and interacting over a common cause. You saw children from different life situations connecting through sports. I tossed a football with a boy who showed up to the event with a mask over his face. By the time we were done, he was wearing a smile. I watched my 6-year-old daughter grab the hand of a girl she didn’t know and dance with her as a crowd of people looked on laughing.
Bottom line: I saw people who probably didn’t feel too good about their family’s living situation experience the sensation of optimism about the future. I saw hope.
The Victory Walk isn’t the answer. However, it’s a start. It’s an opportunity to connect with people, build relationships, and create trust. It’s a chance to build the foundation our city needs to launch and execute a community-based action plan (coming soon!) to tackle violence.
Since getting involved in this campaign, I regularly communicate with ex-cons, city officials, gang members, lawmakers, pastors, and community organizers. They’re all people I’d probably never cross paths with — let alone spend time with — if I hadn’t stepped outside my comfort zone.
You’re right, the walk itself won’t do much. The people will. And the will of the people is growing.