Sep. 3—Grace Community Church recently partnered with Euclid Hope Task Force and Live Free USA in a three-day violence reduction workshop.
The event started on Aug. 31 with a Kick-Off Rally with live music and food which was intended to give energy for the "meat-and-potatoes" of confronting community violence, according to Myron Edmonds, the lead pastor for Grace Community Church.
Over the course of the two-day boot-camp which ran through Sept. 2, speakers were going over strategies to navigate and identify community-rooted violence prevention and interruption strategies, including the roles of gang intervention specialists and the roles that every-day people in their community.
Edmonds, whose church moved to 26100 Euclid Ave., the site of a former Super K-Mart, saw Live Free USA Executive Director Pastor Michael McBride on the TV in March. It was then that he took a chance and picked up the phone.
"We saw what his organization was able to do by reducing gun violence in Oakland, California, by 30%," Edmonds said. "As a result of hearing about that, and hearing that his organization goes around the country training cities teaching them how to organize local municipalities and local government."
The boot-camp is designed to help people understand what the organizations are doing in the area, and what could be done in the future to help prevent violence which has many root causes, including wealth disparity and lack of investment in the community.
"This is a weekend of training for community organizers and honestly more than just community organizers," Edmonds said. "It's for anyone that is interested in helping to change the outcomes of violence in particular gun violence in this area.
"Euclid has had its share of challenges as well as the greater Cleveland population."
Part of the reason that the Live Free USA organization struck Edwards as compelling was the background of its speakers as well as the content that they brought with them, as the speakers themselves have faced violence.
"All of their presenters and teachers are survivors of gun violence," Edmonds said. "So not only are they giving you the sort of academic and research-based information side, but they are also giving their personal experience on how they have been affected by it."