‘Hopefest’ aims to bring community together amid recent violence in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - ”We’re talking about building unity and love throughout our city, talking about ways we can partner together at the community level with law enforcement to fight crime and violence. We’re kind of excited, we’re getting ready to go here in a few minutes and we’re setting up everything and volunteers and kids are starting to show up already,’ said community organizer Curtis Pitts.
The community event held in Southeast Topeka Saturday evening came on the same week the City saw two homicides and a year to the day after a shooting claimed the life of 23-year-old Keith Gaylord Jr.
“We’re celebrating the birthday of our young brother Keith who we lost about a year ago,” Pitts said.
Pitts hopes by working together at the community level, violence can be prevented.
“There’s a lot of people hurting out here. We’re seeing a lot of domestic violence and we have to work on that and fight that at all costs. As a community, it’s our responsibility first to be the ones to prevent crime and lower crime and give people hope and a better future outlook,” said Pitts.
Pitts hopes events like Hopefest will bring more people together with the shared goal of making Topeka safer.
“People in the community really want to see change. They want to see hope and they’re backing us up on everything that we’re doing. The people on the grassroots level want to make things happen in a positive way. We’re trying to get the elected officials to come and get involved with the people that they’re representing.”
Former Topeka Police reserve officer Craig Johnson continues to work on building bridges between law enforcement and the community.
Johnson acknowledged important issues such as this take time to resolve, be he believes Topeka is on the right path is committed to working until it gets there.
“I think everybody’s starting to come together to work together. It’s gonna take time, we didn’t get to this position just yesterday, it took time to get here. So it’s gonna take time for us to get out of it, and I think we’re actually on the way. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Hopefest was free for members of the public as several churches around the area supplied the event with food, drinks, and entertainment.
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