A Guy Emanuele Elementary staffer
handed out posters. Courier Photo
The spectre of Union City's youth brought dozens of members of the faculty from Kityama Elementary and other elementary and middle schools came to James Logan High School after school on Friday with signs that had messages like “Silence the violence” and “We have the power to stop violence in our community.”
Cherie Barnecut, a third grade teacher at Kityama Elementary, took the initiative to organize this event. She did it because “We have lost young people in this community. It does not matter how young or old they were," she said. "It was a tragic loss. And I thought, what if we united people so that they can get together to greet and talk so that we can heal and move on.”
With all the signs and messages they were saying, one would think that this gathering was a protest of some sort, but City Council member Carol Dutra Vernacci said that “this is not a protest. This is reassurance.”
The teachers preferred to call it a ‘demonstration’. According to Kimberly Debono another teacher at Kityama, “we are here to show Logan students that we are her, and we care.” She continued by saying “we need to stop the violence and take care of our community.”
Though the idea of the demonstration started with Kityama and Barnard-White teachers, they were joined on the sidewalk by Logan teachers and students. Also is attendance were administrators, bus drivers, janitors, concerned parents, and etc. They all were in favor of taking a stand to get our community back.
During the demonstration, police went up and down H Street in their cars and motorcycles, making sure nothing got too rowdy and that traffic kept moving.
The presence of the police actually helped to advertise the peace demonstration. Logan students were attracted to the fuss made by the police sirens and word quickly spread that there was some sort of rally going on. Logan students reacted very positively to the demonstration. They immediately took some flyers and were very into promoting the message of peace that the others were trying to get across.
Earlier that day, however, the demonstration had started rallying at Barnard White Middle School at approximately 2:15pm. The Barnard students were not as receptive to the peace message. DeBono reported “no one wanted to take a poster at Barnard.” She had a theory that the were “too cool” to help them spread the message.