Residents turn to art, parade to fight city's violence - WNEM TV 5

Residents turn to art, parade to fight city's violence

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If Flint residents could beat the crime out of their city, they'd hit it harder.

A parade on Wednesday night wasn't about celebration, it was more about unity against the devastation both crime and violence are leaving behind. So far this week, two shootings occurred within 24 hours of each other, including the murder of a teenager. 

"We want to take back our neighborhoods, we want people to come outside their four walls, we want people to be active in our community," said Raynetta Speed, who's with the Flint Public Art Project and who helped set up Wednesday night's event.

Residents sick of the violence came out to do just that.

"It'll help everybody get together and enjoy what the community has," said Ki'Mari Smith, an 11-year-old who walked in the parade.

The Flint Public Art Project used the streets as its canvas to draw the clear picture that enough is enough.

"It is a great idea for the community," said Flint resident and Night Fire Drumline organizer Clarence Ruffin. "Because Flint doesn't really have a lot of positive things going, and we show that we're a good city and we're trying to do positive things, it'll promote it, and bring people back to the city."

The Night Fire Drumline led Wednesday night's parade through the city streets. The Neighborhood Art Parade focused on art as treatment to some blemished areas, bringing life back to the neighborhoods and also using this former gas station as a portrait of new life.

"Idle mind is the devil's playground, so we just have to be mindful of that, and make sure we're involved in positivity throughout the day, and as we move forward, throughout the nights and months to come," said Flint resident Casanya Brown.

On Wednesday night, for just a short time, the violence and crime that overshadows Flint was forgotten as the parade represented the hopes and dreams residents have for their city.

"Art takes different forms, so we just want kids to get out and explore and see what's out there, and be a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem," said Speed.

There are Neighborhood Art Parade's scheduled throughout the summer. They'll happen throughout the city on the fourth Wednesday of every month. The next one is scheduled on July 24 at Foss Avenue Baptist Church.

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