With birthday cake, fruit punch, and kids playing on the swings, this ceasefire at the Washington Park Community Center was a celebration of the life of Dwayne Buchanan, and not a time to grieve.
Buchanan's mother Paula Hallden says "I wanted to come here to have a celebration with all the community, with who everyone who knew (Dwayne) and loved him, and wanted to be with him to celebrate his birthday."
Buchanan would have turned nineteen on April 9th. His mother Paula reflects on the impact he had on the community, as he was in the process of turning his life around prior to his murder. "The more the people come around they can tell me the stories and the love they had for my son and that makes me happy inside." Hallden says.
Dwayne's brother James Hallden moved out of Rockford to escape the city's crime. He looks at the cease fire as his way of saying goodbye to Buchanan. James Hallden of Belvidere says" I didn't go to his funeral because I did not want that to be my last way of seeing (Dwayne.)"
Community leaders are urging Rockford to stop the violence. They believe the solution starts with residents speaking up. "By coming together and being a voice, you know sometimes we sit at home, we sit back and we do not say anything. We just say well it's their business, let them handle it, but really it's all of our communities, it's our children that's dying everyday and we need to take control of it by coming out of our houses and being a voice." Said Theresa Davenport, Supervisor of Ceasefire.
Paula Hallden agrees. She says there is no pain worst then burying your own child.
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