Marchers used bullhorns to shout anti-violence slogans.|Rikard Larma / Metro1/4 Marchers used bullhorns to shout anti-violence slogans.|Rikard Larma / Metro
Those marching asked residents to turn to prayer instead of guns.|Rikard Larma / Metro2/4 Those marching asked residents to turn to prayer instead of guns.|Rikard Larma / Metro
Many carried signs bearing the names and photographs of lost loved ones.3/4 Many carried signs bearing the names and photographs of lost loved ones.
Participants were comprised of all ages and creeds.|Rikard Larma / Metro4/4 Participants were comprised of all ages and creeds.|Rikard Larma / Metro
Members of diverse faith communities took to the streets Sunday afternoon to wage a different kind of holy war –one against violence in the city's communities.
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"My pastor was shot and my little brother was murdered," event organizer Rosalind Pichardo said.
Prayer Clinic pastor Desmond Byrd, who also led the rally, was shot less than two years ago during a carjacking.
Pichardo's brother, Alexander Martinez, was gunned down in Franklinville Jan. 9 while protecting his nephew during a robbery.
His homicide remains unsolveddespite a $10,000 reward for information leading to his killer.
"We're out here to advocate in a way that can make a difference, and to make a lot of noise for peace," Pichardo said.
Participants certainly achieved their goal – cries of "Stop the violence!" echoed down Girard Avenue as marchers processed to a church service on North Marshall Street.
The effort is part of a growing trend of engaging religious communities in anti-violence activism.
"[Violence] is something that when people are affected by it – and a lot of people in the faith surround themselves with people who have been affected – they pray and feel the power," Pichardo said.
"It's one way to bring peace, to have Jesus in your life, it brings healing.
"After the murder of my brother, I definitely felt prayer was important and having faith to support you, especially in hard times, is very important."