Detroit community leaders work to keep children safe from gun violence this summer

Detroit community leaders are worried about the safety of young people as summer and a potential uptick in gun violence arrives.

"They are deeply affected and devastated and traumatized by gun violence," Pastor Joyce Branham said.

She is reaching out to parents to coordinate.

"We are going to organize marches that the kids can march with their toys, and we’re going to empower them to speak. They want to speak. They want to live and enjoy their life. And one of our mottos is live and take your kids to Disney World."

The pastor’s team wants a "Toy City" for kids, not a "Gun City."

"We never had this problem before. The availability of guns and people with mental issues, all types of emotional issues and rather than sitting down and praying over a situation, they pick up a weapon. But I think we can de-escalate this. Because my movement is Fun City, not Gun City. What’s wrong with a little fun?" Branham said.

Last month Detroit police announced a new partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, city officials, and other state and federal law enforcement organizations, known together as One Detroit, with one key goal: save as many lives as possible. 

Read: Detroit rolls out new crime prevention plan to reduce gun violence

U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said past partnerships in other cities produced major reductions in non-fatal shootings.

There was a 70% drop in Pontiac, Flint saw a 42% drop, and in Saginaw, there was a 57% reduction. Homicide rates fell in those cities as well. 

But experts say Detroit is a different story, in part because it’s much larger. 

"I’m certainly concerned that our young people won’t have enough to do, and I think it is incumbent upon all of us throughout this city to make sure they have some positive things to do," said Detroit Council Member At-Large Mary Waters.

Waters already got Council talking about making certain parts of the city "gun-free zones." She’s one of many city officials who says everyone has a role to play and that police cannot do it all this summer.

"Listen, we are short on police officers. They are overworked. They work a lot of hours. They cannot cover this entire city. We’re calling on community organizations, churches other neighborhood groups. Let’s, we can all do this together. If you see something suspicious, report it. Have somebody take a look at it," she said.