SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A different than usual car parade took place in Springfield Saturday. One to “take back” the neighborhoods where gun violence has been persistent in recent weeks.
“When you walk out your door and you don’t know if you’re going to get a bullet or if you think you have to protect yourself to go to the corner store, that’s a problem. And we all have a responsibility to work on that,” Chris Judd, director of ROCA Springfield told 22News.
The New North Citizens’ Council through its Good Vibes program, ROCA Springfield and the Springfield Police Department conducted a peace drive, in response to gun violence in the City of Springfield.
Saturday’s was the second such peace drive and more are planned for neighborhoods most affected. The overall purpose of the peace drive is to send a message after lives have been tragically lost due to recent gun violence within the city.
The peace parade and rally comes after a string of shootings that happened in the Springfield North End area including one that happened right at Calhoun Park where people gathered after the car parade.
The Good Vibes program is a non-profit organization that serves youth ages from 17 to 24 years old who are proven risk or at risk of gun violence. 22News spoke with Director of Youth Services at New North Citizens’ Council, Joesiah Gonzalez, on why he felt the peace drive needed to be held.
“My hopes is that people will see that wait one second, this is not a place for gun violence,” Gonzalez said. “We are retaking back places in the community that have been prevalent in the past with gun violence and we’re saying, this isn’t permitted here.”
The Good Vibes program provides workforce development, mental health counseling and many other opportunities to pave the way to success for youth participants.
Elected city officials, Alex Gomez and Jesse Lederman also spoke to those who came to the event Saturday.