YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – From each corner of the city of Youngstown, hundreds gathered underneath the Market Street bridge to stand up against violence.
A bonfire was then lit to illuminate the path of change — a turning point in bringing Youngstown together.
That was the biggest message at Youngstown’s first Peace Walk.
“Tensions were kind of flaring with our young people when it came to violence,” Julius Oliver of 1st Ward Council said. “We didn’t want to deal with anymore murder or homicides. So we said what was the best way to bring everyone together — have a bonfire. Tell them this is for the youth, come together and try to figure out what avenues to take so that our youth can have things to do and stay out of trouble.”
“We just want people to look at things from a holistic point before they start making decisions,” said Keland Logan, director of the Meeting of the Minds Movement. “You know, just think before you act.”
It all started with a meeting of the minds and a heart-to-heart talk with Mayor John McNally about violence in the city.
“It became real. It was solidified that the city is really behind these young men,” Logan said. “It makes a statement that the mayor’s office cares.”
As the walk came to a stop underneath the Market Street bridge, a bonfire was lit as a symbol of hope and change — burning away the old and lighting the new. Several people also stood in solidarity with one another speaking to the crowd.
“They could hear from young men who are in our community, who have had difficult lives, but who they themselves are trying to change — and they want to change,” McNally said. “And that fire that was here symbolized that.”
Organizers said this isn’t the first or last event that will be held like this in the city.
They’re hoping to continue this movement of change and bring more peace to the community as they move forward.