Photos: East Side Peace March draws mayor, police chief, ex-gang members
Before the mayor took the megaphone, Jason Janz, a pastor at Providence Bible Church, said that residents of Denver need to take the lead in fighting gang violence.
"The ultimate solution is, we need leadership. We have a crisis of leadership in solving the problem," he said, giving shout-outs to the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver and the Prodigal Son Initiative. "True leaders move a community forward and that destination has to be reconciliation."
Sam Levin Pastor Jason Janz of Providence Bible Church.
Janz said that with seven gang-related deaths this year, overall gang violence is decreasing in Denver -- though "that's seven too many."
"Let's make it so that next year when we come back there are no gang-related deaths," he said, adding, "I'm gonna pray for our new police chief, that you would give him the wisdom, the power, the strength to operate the police force in a way, Lord, that would keep the community safe and at the same time make everybody feel that they were for them."
For his part, Police Chief White told Westword before the event began that community collaboration with officers is key.
"This is a community that understands the importance of taking back the community. That can best be accomplished by...working together, holding the police department accountable, working with the police department and holding each other accountable," he said. "Part of our responsibility is to make sure we continue to connect with communities...and listen to their concerns."
Willie Mosley, a 36-year-old former gang member who has spent time in prison and is now starting a Boy Scout Club of Metro East Denver, said that he knows how hard it can be to avoid gangs.
"It's very important that kids have role models in the neighborhood," said Mosely, adding that he still has family members involved in gangs today. "I didn't have role models when I was growing up."
Sam Levin Willie Mosley, former gang member.
When he was younger, his gang was involved in the drive-by shooting of three-year-old Casson Evans.
"Everyday, I fell responsible for that child's life," he says.
Page down to see more photos from the march.