Eight-year-old girl brings together community, Miami-Dade Police Department and other agencies for peace walk
Masjid Al-Ansar is one of the oldest mosques in South Florida, a historic trove that has been a part of the community for over 50 years, but on Friday, March 4, 2022, a precocious 8-year-old girl led its members, police officers, and residents from the neighborhood, on a peace march.
Shaken by reports of violence in her community, MaKynLee Elise wanted to do something, and she knew how to bring her idea to fruition because she has done it before, two years ago founding a non-profit oral hygiene awareness organization. Again, with the help of her elders, she brought her idea to life.
The ‘Stop the Violence 365 Movement-Peace & Love March’ started at the mosque, and then proceeded from NW 53rd Street up NW 7th Avenue, to NW 62nd Street and back down NW 7th Avenue, returning to the fabled place of worship where boxing great Muhammad Ali attended during his days in Miami.
There were more than a dozen participating organizations, such as The Circle of Brotherhood, and the Family of Excellence Community Alliance, and several vendors on the mosque grounds. The Miami Police Department showed up, as did a representative from the Miami-Dade County Office of Neighborhood Safety. That office was created on August 3, 2021, to “bring together residents, community stakeholders, and county representatives to address critical issues regarding public safety and quality of life.”
Since it opened its doors in the late 60’s, the mosque has prioritized community outreach and the welfare of residents; even its name reflects that, loosely translated as “The Helper’s Mosque.”
MaKynLee, a straight-A student with perfect attendance four years running, held hands during the march with Miami-Dade Police Department Interim Director George A. Perez. He wore his taupe and brown uniform, and she wore a hooded pullover awash in vivid colors, a fuchsia headdress, and black sweatpants. As the procession made its way up NW 7th Avenue, a cacophony of chants and intermittent car horns echoed off high-rise residential buildings, drawing some residents out to their balconies to observe. The Department used several marked cruisers and officers on foot to stop traffic and allow marchers to proceed safely and without pause.
The march was within the Northside District, which has the highest rate of violent crime among all the Department’s districts. The commander of Northside District, Major John Barrow, also participated in the march. He has been a visible presence in the district, working with community leaders to build a stronger relationship.
Such partnerships between the Department and the community are essential, Director Perez said, as a way to help diminish violent crime. He thanked MaKynLee for her activism.
“We are blessed, inspired to be here, walking shoulder to shoulder with the Circle of Brotherhood, all the community organizations, hand-in-hand with young MaKynLee Elise, we love you, this is our community, Miami-Dade County.”
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