Columbia residents gather in walk for peace

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COLUMBIA – Columbia residents gathered in Peace Park Wednesday evening to rally to bring people together. The Peace Walk Against Hate started at Peace Park, on the MU campus, and continued through the streets of downtown Columbia before commencing at the Boone County Courthouse on Walnut Street.

Dressed in black, hundreds of participants walked with the goal of spreading the message to end the violence and hatred they feel has torn through America. Stephens College student Audrey Lockwood started the event through Facebook, and it was not affiliated with any outside organization or business.

Lockwood said she the goal of the walk was to promote positivity in the community, "The three things we want to focus on are strength, solidarity and safety."

Lockwood said she feels the non-violent demonstration was a place for people to come together in wake of recent events that led many Americans to a heightened emotional state.

"We want it to be a time for people to meet others in the community and learn," Lockwood said. 

Many participants in the walk brought signs to show their messages of support. One participant, Columbia resident Jenny Mummert, said the walk was about being respectful and tolerant of others despite possible ideological differences.

"We have differences but we have to show our tolerance," Mummert said. She also emphasized a message of compassion, holding a sign that said, "Imagine compassion everywhere." 

Participants came from a wide variety of age groups and ethnic backgrounds. Along with many college students were many families, including many young children with their parents. After the walk, participants gathered on the courthouse steps for a rally with speakers from many different minority groups, highlighting the message of strength, solidarity and safety.

"It's gives me hope that America is already great and continue to be great," Lockwood said.