Hundreds set to gather for Walk for Peace Saturday

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - In two days, hundreds will gather at a park in Kalamazoo, calling for an end to the violence.

Toni McGhee is behind the peace march, but she also has another mission--opening a safe place for kids to get off the streets.

The mother of a Kalamazoo murder victim hit the streets Thursday night, hoping her actions will lead to a safe haven for young kids throughout the city.

Newschannel 3 spoke to McGhee about her mission.

Toni McGhee is hoping t-shirts are the first step to calming down things in Kalamazoo.

They aren't just ordinary t-shirts, but those with the faces of murder victims.

Thursday, she took another step in opening a safe haven for kids.

"We all care about these people that lost their lives, they have lots of family that loves them, they care, and we care about them," McGhee said.

Among the faces on the shirt sits a picture of her son, Andre Reason, who was killed in 2003.

McGhee chose the corner near Ada and Westnedge Thursday evening because seven people have been killed within blocks of there over the years.

A year after her son was killed, McGhee started Toni's Praise Place, on Burdick Street. It was a safe haven for young kids and teenagers, but it closed down two years ago, as it wasn't up to code.

She says the shirts are a first step to getting another building open soon.

"I wanted to take something painful and turn it into praise, take something bad and turn it into something good, so I wanted to help other kids be safe," she said.

She had the backing of the late Bill Wright, as well as other city leaders.

The mother of Orlando Walker stopped by, hugging McGhee, and encouraging her on her mission. Walker was a recent homicide victim, shot and killed in July on the north side, near the intersection of Church and Norway.

"I've lost my son, so I know how the parents feel losing their children," McGhee said. "It's something you never get over, yet you want to come back and make a difference in other people's lives."

There's a Walk for Peace in Kalamazoo on Saturday, August 23, starting at 5:00 p.m., at Farrell Park on Rose Street.

They expect somewhere between 300 and 500 people.

There will also be a showing of the movie, Trigger, about gun violence and its effect on cities, on September 24, at 6:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.