Florida International University

“Peace in Da Hood” was the theme of the Miami Peace Festival Saturday,  Aug. 14, but “da hood” was hardly peaceful a few blocks away when a domestic dispute ended in a fatal shooting by police.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the ninth annual peace festival on Northeast 62nd Street between Northwest Seventh and 10th avenues.

“We have had no incidents ever. We have never even had a fight,” said Demetrius Allen, who started the festival nine years ago.

This year, with mid-term elections swinging into high gear, the event also provided a venue for politicians to tout their candidacies.

“It’s a celebration of life to unify the community,” said Frank Tarvaner, who was  handing out flyers supporting Cynthia Stafford, a candidate for the state House of Representatives, District 109.

Stafford walked the streets, introducing herself to and encouraging participants to vote.

“We need new leadership for the community for District 109,” she said.

Also hitting the pavement at the festival was Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, a candidate for the Miami-Dade County School Board, who supported the festival’s message.

“It gives people in the core of the community somewhere they can come together in peace,” she said.

The festival featured an array of vendors selling items such as food, lemonade and t-shirt.

DJ Lil Hype organized performance by local DJs.

Later in the day, a candlelight vigil honored victims of violence. Participants included Delrish Moss of the Miami Police Department, Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn, rapper  Ace Hood and relatives of hip hop artist Uncle Al, who was shot and killed some years ago.

But the violence persisted. Just blocks away, Gibson Junior Belizaire, 21, fled when police responded to a domestic violence call.

Officers stopped his vehicle at the corner of Northwest Second Avenue and 62nd Street, where, according to reports, he exchanged gun fire with police.

Officers set up a perimeter extending to Interstate 95, just a block from the festival, and again exchanged fire with Belizaire, who was fatally wounded.

Jessica de Leon may be reached at jdele002@fiu.edu.