SOUTH BEND, Indiana (WNDU) – Residents of South Bend gathered at the Alive & Free Festival on Saturday to enjoy food, music and shopping, but most importantly, to express the importance of reducing gun violence in the community .
Chief organizer Eric “EMAC” McDaniel says he has worked in the community his entire life and is happy to finally be able to host an important event like this.
“I got a grant through South Bend Alive,” McDaniel said. “And what I did, I just made it manifest. Try to help fight gun violence. That’s where my heart stands, that’s how I was brought up.
McDaniel says his main reason for hosting the event is that the youth of South Bend are dying at an alarming rate as a result of gun violence.
“We have to give them fun things to do,” he said. “Positive things to do in a small town. I mean, it’s a city, but it’s a bit small compared to the big places.
Several suppliers set up during the event, including Octavia Ray. She says this is a big step for South Bend.
“It’s huge,” said Ray, owner of Righteous Kingdom Customs. “We are moving in a new direction and we just want it to end. We are ready to end the violence.
One person who has worked diligently to reduce gun violence is Carlos Buchanon. He received a humanitarian award today for his efforts in mentoring the youth of South Bend.
“I’m just trying to give back,” Buchanon said. “Give the children something that I didn’t have growing up. “
Buchanon ultimately wants to see this event grow over the years.
“This is our first outing,” he said. “So I think next year will be a lot more important and so on. And man, we have to come out and we have to support. That’s it, it’s very simple.
Chief organizer Eric McDaniel wants more people to believe they can coordinate events like Alive & Free. In doing so, they will have a greater impact on reducing gun violence in the community of South Bend.
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