norland-high-band_web.jpgMIAMI GARDENS — Some residents in this North Miami- Dade city have begun to take a stand against violence in their community.

About 100 of them, led by Miami Norland High School’s marching band, recently came out for S.A. V.I.O.R. (Stand Against Violence—It’s Our Responsibility) recently to make their voices heard.

The marchers headed north from Mt. Zion AME Church, 15250 NW 22nd Ave., to a rally in Bunche Park. This is the second year Mt. Zion’s Social Action Commission has organized the event.

“I am aware of the violence that goes on and it seems that we have an inordinate share of it taking place in Miami Gardens,” said the Rev. Rogery Adams, Mt. Zion’s pastor. “I noticed that there wasn’t a week going by when there wasn’t a shooting and the name Miami Gardens wasn’t being called out.”

“We just had a shooting at Miami Norland,” Adams continued. “Many of our members have children there and are concerned about their safety.”

A number of drive-by shootings have taken place in the city and young people have been shot or killed, former Miami Police Chief Perry L. Anderson said.

“There is much attention drawn to the community because of crime, it discourages businesses from investing and people from relocating here,” said Anderson, who organized the rally.

He described the event as “the catalyst that will bring everybody together so there will be attention drawn to the safety concerns of the general community.”

“We are hoping that the public will be more interested in taking more types of action, and that the police department will be a little more concerned,” Anderson said.

Such violence as decried also by Kevin Williams, a representative of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

“There is something wrong with the amount of violence that takes place in the streets, in homes and schools,” Williams said at the rally. “Kids have assault rifles in their cars and parents are a part of the problem when they defend them. We need to take control, stop being friends to our kids and start being their parent,” Williams said.

Williams said the local government and the schools do not have any idea what to do with the children.

“If you don’t believe me, watch the news. We have turned a blind eye. We have turned the schools and churches into babysitting services,” he said.

Adams said that he understood this was just “one march on one day” and that it won’t change everything. “But after this is over, the real question is, what are we going to do?” he said.

The police department has been supportive and will assist in setting up crime watch groups, Adams said, adding that Mt. Zion will be one of the sites.

“And with improvements to the area, there will be less of a haven for that criminal element. We also want to engage people who really want to make a change,” Adams said.

Daryl Baker, Norland’s band director, welcomed the news that
community policing will be imple- mented in the city.

“It would get people involved, give people a sense of purpose when dealing with the problem of crime,” Baker said.

Anna Johnson, 69, a lifelong area resident, said that she never visited Bunche Park alone and that many seniors were afraid to go to the neighborhood.

“These kids rob us, hurt us, they keep us scared,” Johnson said. “How sad is it when no one respects older people”

Johnson said she is looking forward to more policing in the neighborhood.

“The police do come, and I believe are doing their best. But they cannot be here every moment of every day. We just need more people that live around here to help out,” she said.

Cynthia Roby may be reached at