Macon begins initiative to keep the Peace

Macon held an official Peace Week from Feb. 6-12 as a way to help build a safer community. The group, known as the Peace Keepers came to Macon as a part of a goal to create cohesiveness amongst the police and public. The Peace Keepers initiative began three years ago when founding member, Captain Dennis Muhammad noticed a steady rise in crime rates all across the nation.

Peace Keepers is a national organization with 15 cities participating in Peace Week. The main presentation the group puts on is heading into neighborhoods wearing brightly colored orange shirts with the words ‘Present Peace’ written on the front.

“Any time you see 50 to 785 men and women in orange shirts…they can go into the worst corners and be standing for one hour. I don’t think no drug dealer is going to sell no drugs that time. I don’t think there’s going to be no crime and violence,” Muhammad told reporters.

Muhammad expanded on his idea to start the program at a meeting in the Freedom Park building. He stressed that the Peace Keepers are not an organization, but an initiative. Their mission is not to try to tell people what to do, but to help communities come together.

Before meeting with the Peace Keepers on Saturday, February 11, no one seemed to have a clear idea of who or what the Peace Keepers were. Were they just some crazy people in bright colored shirts standing in a circle in bad areas? Did they attempt to demand others to be better people? No! The Peace Keepers don’t attempt to tell others what to do. Instead, the members make a point to be friendly to everyone in the communities they visit. They converse with others in the neighborhoods by explaining who they are, and what they’re doing there.

“Peace Keepers are not the eyes and ears of the police, they are the eyes and ears of the community,” said Muhammad.  He wants to help bridge the gap between the police and the public. The police cannot deal with social issues in the community, but the Peace Keepers can. Muhammad is in the process of jumping from city to city, and introducing the Peace Keeper initiative. First, Muhammad meets with the city officials such as the mayor and police chief and gains their support. Then, Muhammad moves to introduce the Peace Keepers to the rest of the community. With each city the Peace Keepers go to, they declare an official Peace Week to take place annually. Macon’s official annual Peace Week will continue to be February 6 to the 12.

The Peace Keepers also encourage people to pledge and become members of the Peace Keeper initiative. New members actually go through training for a year before allowed to walk with the Peace Keepers on the street. Training consists of learning CPR, first aid and self-defense among others. The Peace Keepers had started out with only men becoming members. Now, more women are getting involved too and helping with the cause.

Each day in that week, Peace Keeper members will gather to stand in one area for an hour a day to help knit the community together. “One hour of doing something is better than 24 hours of doing nothing,” said Muhammad. He stressed that every little step toward creating a better environment, a better neighborhood is imperative.

To help fund the Peace Keepers, a few celebrities have joined in the cause. Cheryl Renee James from the 80s hip-hop trio, Salt-n-Pepa along with T.I are two major funders. The Peace Keepers do not want to be funded by the federal government, because they do not wish to be mandated by their rules and regulations.

Muhammad said he would love to bring the Peace Keepers to Mercer University. He described it as an opportunity to eventually bring the city of Macon in closer contact with Mercer. He insists that by doing this students won’t necessarily have to be nervous about being out at night on or off campus.