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South Bend festival aims to reduce gun violence

Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 11:16 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend residents gathered at the Alive & Free Festival Saturday to enjoy food, music and shopping, but most importantly, express the importance of reducing gun violence in the community.

Head organizer Eric “EMAC” McDaniel says he’s worked in the community his whole life and is glad he can finally host a significant 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 raised.”

McDaniel says his main reason for hosting this event is because the young people of South Bend are dying from gun violence at an alarming rate.

“We got 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 kind of small compared to big places.”

Several vendors set up at the event, including Octavia Ray. She says this is a major step for South Bend.

“This is huge,” Ray, owner of Righteous Kingdom Customs, said. “We’re moving in a new direction and we just want to see everything come to an end. We’re ready to cease the violence.”

One person who’s worked diligently to reduce gun violence is Carlos Buchanon. He received a humanitarian award today for his efforts in mentoring South Bend youth.

“I’m just trying to give back,” Buchanon said. “Give the kids something that I didn’t have growing up.”

Buchanon ultimately wants to see this event grow over the years.

“This is our first time out,” he said. “So, I think next year will be a lot bigger and what not. And man, we have to come out and we have to support. That’s all it is, it’s really simple.”

Head organizer Eric McDaniel wants more people to believe they can coordinate events like Alive & Free. By doing so, they’ll have a greater impact on reducing gun violence in the South Bend community.

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