Despite a rainy Friday, a line of demonstrators snaked its way along California Avenue as people chanted “no more violence” in English and Spanish. For the 4th Annual Peace March in Little Village’s Marshall Square neighborhood community members assembled at Hammond Elementary School to march against domestic violence, which kills on average one to two people a year in Little Village.
Little Villages Marshall Square is one of the communities in United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Network Initiative. To serve the neighborhood a collaborative of nonprofits, hospitals clinics, schools, community members and government officials formed the Peace Committee which has a goal of addressing issues of domestic violence. Jenny Hansen, United Way’s Senior Manager of Safety Net, oversees services for the Neighborhood Network Initiative. She explains that Little Village is especially exciting because they’re guiding themselves into becoming a coordinated community that responds to domestic violence. “When people think about domestic violence, they think about it in terms of a person-to-person issue instead of a societal problem that needs fixing,” said Hansen. “The point of the march is to address domestic violence in these cultural ways. They’re saying ‘We can tackle this.’”
Wanda Decwikiel, Co-Chair of the Marshall Square Resource Network Peace Committee added, “The richness of the culture, education and health of the community, depends on our stand against violence. We want to continue to live in our community, but unfortunately many people leave because they don’t feel safe.”
12th Ward Slderman George Cardenas
Wanda Decwikiel, Co-Chair of the
MSRN Peace Committee
Demonstrators wearing purple, the colors of domestic violence awareness month, held signs with uplifting messages like “advocate for human rights,” “help others in need,” and “speak up!” Alderman George Cardenas, of the 12th ward, was on hand to participate in the march. He sees the event as a tool to unite the community. “The Peace March yields benefits,” said Cardenas. “People see the march as a unifying event. As a place to go if they suffer from domestic violence, are bullied at school, or if they just want their voice to be heard. This is where you go.”
The march wrapped up at Our Lady of Tepeyac Social Center, where alters were on display to pay tribute to community members who lost their lives to domestic violence.