Three Oak Park residents have organized a peace march through Oak Park and Austin to demonstrate neighborly support and a desire to bridge the racial divide between the two communities.
Taking place June 13 at noon, the group will start in Oak Park at Austin Boulevard and Madison Street then walk westward through Austin ending in Garfield Park.
“We need respect. People just want to live. I figure peace is the best way to go,” said Damien Jones, who organized the march with Danielle Kovack and Deidra Avery Jackson.
Oak Park residents live in a bubble, Jones believes, and that bubble shields them from the struggles and disenfranchisement faced by those living in Austin.
“With all of the challenges and issues we’re facing right now, if we don’t make a strong commitment right now for peace, then that protective bubble is going to burst,” he said.
Jones hopes the march will help break down the barriers between the two communities and lead to unity.
“It’s the wider community — the human community,” Jones said.
The organizers also intend for the march to be a call for law enforcement to address systemic racism and the use of violence.
“One of the greatest joys of doing this is marching through a community that is so supportive and happy to see this in our lifetime,” Kovack said. “The more we bring peace by marching and chanting and saying the names of the lives that have been lost — and there’s just so many — I believe we can make a change.”
Kovack and Jones hope to see a large crowd come out June 13 and to continue the momentum.
“Let’s have compassion and transparency and love for your neighbor,” Jones said.