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Metro Denver Gang Coalition: Beyond Darrent Williams

Members of the Metro Denver Gang Coalition are at a crossroads, hoping they can keep the peace through the rest of the year.

The coalition has several other grant proposals pending, and Gallardo and Armijo raised $3,000 from a donor for the painting of two peace murals in gang-infested neighborhoods at 37th Avenue and Williams Street and 43rd Avenue and Clayton Street. The Summer of Peace, which was actually born in the Chicano community and quickly absorbed by the coalition, also spawned a Friday-night basketball league, which had nearly 100 kids participating. The program included a life-skills component, with speakers ranging from a former California gangster to the Oracle of Tibet.

As summer turned to fall, the Summer of Peace campaign rolled into the Keepin' the Peace campaign, and Huerter believes it is stronger now than ever.

But as the Reverend Leon Kelly, executive director of the Open Door Youth Gang Alternative, points out, it's a battle that's been abandoned before.

"I'm still hearing the same concern from a lot of these kids in the hood: 'Who's it for?'" says Kelly, who continues to run an after-school program and respond as an intervention force. "I haven't seen any changes in the hood for some of these kids to make them feel like they're dealing with the Summer of Peace, or like anyone from the city really wants to change. You can have peace signs all over the place, but we got tombstones still coming up alongside the peace signs."

But others, like Gallardo, Roberts and Armijo, see positive results beginning to take hold. And everyone agrees with something that one of the out-of-town speakers said over the summer: "Peace is a journey, not a destination, not a place that you get to."

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