It's been a week of changes for the Miami Gardens community, and period plagued by violence, but today its people come together in a show of solidarity. Teens dancing, the marching band booming and tiny children asking for the violence to stop.
"It is sad. It's almost like you don't want your child to go outside," said Denise Brown, founder of the RJT foundation. She lost her son to gun violence in 2012 and serves as an advocate for victims of senseless violence.
"A lot of us live In this community and most of us are law-abiding citizens we cannot allow the few elements that cause mayhem tomake us afraid to come to the park," said Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro, who helped organize the event.
For four years in a row, the community has taken part in “OPERATION S.A.V.I.O.R. - Stand Against Violence: It’s Our Responsibility.” This year it seems more pressing. During the event at Bunche Park, Pastor Rogery Adams from the Mt. Zion AME Church asked a poignant question to a sea of young people.
"I want to see by show of hands, if you know somebody or a family [member] who was killed in your community?"
Most raise their hands, including a tiny child, no older than 5-years-old.
This August, 12-year-old Tequila Forshee was shot and killed while in the comfort of her grandmother's home, getting ready to start a new school year. And then in Late October--the start of 11 days of bloodshed--at least 10 people shot--one of them an 11-year-old girl.
The city is also dealing with turmoil. This past Wednesday, police Chief Matthew Boyd resigned from his post, though he had planned to retire in January.
The department is coming under fire Following allegations of officers harassing people at a Miami Gardens convenience store. Florida's NAACP has called for a federal civil rights investigation into the police department.
Today Mayor Oliver Gilbert assured citizens that they are in good hands and the city will move forward.
"Even if someone is making allegations, with respect to the force, there are 211 officers in Miami Gardens. Just keep everything in perspective. If something was done and it was wrong we fix that but we're always going forward," the mayor said.
He and local leaders agree, the community has to work collectively to battle the violence.
"These things are happening in broad daylight. Someone knows something. We've got to be able to come forward. Because if not its going to come to our house next," said Pastor Adams. "It may take some time to turn the corner on this thing but it will happen"