Rally for Peace — Ending Violence in Providence Communities

TAPA Rally for Peace-1Avi David is a member of the Extraordinary Rendition Band and a music teacher at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts (TAPA), a school for 7th through 10th graders located a block away from last week’s shooting that resulted in the death of 20-year-old Davon Taylor. Taylor’s 15-year-old sister, Destiny, a former student at TAPA, was also injured in the shooting and remains hospitalized.

This latest violent act hit especially close to home for David’s students and they were eager to take action. David put out a call to supportive members of the community, musicians and activists to help his students turn their fear and grief into something positive. On Thursday, May 22, the Rally for Peace will take place to bring issues of gun, gang and youth violence to the forefront of community attention.

“Youth are the ones who are affected the most by community violence,” David said. “And this rally has largely been driven by young people who want to see changes take place in their neighborhoods.”

Teema Garpue, a sophomore at TAPA, said of her neighborhood, “People are afraid to go outside.” Her hope is that the Rally for Peace will show members of her community that despite their fear, people can come together to take positive action in their streets. “We can’t let something like this take away our freedom,” she said. “Let’s make this the last violent death. We want a little bit of peace.”

Jaymi Cepeda, also a sophomore at TAPA, said that even though gun violence sparked this rally, guns aren’t the focus. “Bad things are going to happen in our neighborhood and we want to react to them by showing peace, harmony and community,” she said.

“We’re not coming out with a proposal for new gun legislation,” said David. “We’re just hoping to light a spark in the community so that politicians and community members will start talking about changing the ways we think about guns and community and how we relate to each other.”

The Rally for Peace will wind through the West End neighborhood, stopping on Wendell Street, where the recent homicide occurred, to honor victims of violence. Students displaying signs and playing bucket drums will be joined by the Extraordinary Rendition Band and the What Cheer? Brigade. “We’re going to play songs that make people think of peace,” said Cepeda. “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine” are two planned songs that illustrate what the rally is all about.

Garpue and Cepeda both have high hopes for an end to the violence in their community. “We have to change the world rather than wait for others to do it,” said Cepeda. “And it only takes one person to change the whole community.”
A whole lot more than one person will come out to change the community at the Rally for Peace on May 22 from 5 until 7pm. Community members and activists are asked to meet at the steps of the Cranston Street Armory on Parade Street, and the rally will travel through the West End neighborhood with a brief stop on Wendell Street. For more information about the event, visit the event’s Facebook page:  facebook.com/events/668735656515082/

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