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 On Jan. 21, the Eastpointe City Council, pictured with the Rev. Ovella Davis, third from left, approved a proclamation to promote the 22nd of each month as a violence-free day across the city.

On Jan. 21, the Eastpointe City Council, pictured with the Rev. Ovella Davis, third from left, approved a proclamation to promote the 22nd of each month as a violence-free day across the city.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Eastpointe adopts monthly anti-violence day

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 27, 2020

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EASTPOINTE — For more than seven years, the Code 22 program has worked to encourage communities to declare the 22nd of each month as a day without violence.

At its regular council meeting Jan. 21, the Eastpointe City Council approved a proclamation making Eastpointe the 11th city to adopt the initiative, joining cities such as Detroit, Ecorse, Southfield and Romulus.

Code 22 was begun by the United Communities of America, a nonprofit that aims to encourage peace and foster reconciliation. The Rev. Ovella Davis, the founder of the UCOA, said they started Code 22 in 2013 as a proactive way to reduce violence.

“In 2010, we started with a message campaign. God said ‘thou shalt not kill,’ and we started with billboards across the city stating that, and we worked to promote a message of peace over violence,” she explained. “As a result of this, I started to get a lot of attention from people who have been victims of violence, and we wanted to find a way to turn this pain into power and help them deal with forgiveness. We came up with a one-night event called the Citywide Night of Peace and Healing to gather these victims of violence and help them forgive. We ended up with over 300 families taking part, and the (Detroit) City Council came to us and we worked together on a city proclamation to turn the 22nd of every month into a monthly initiative to promote 24 hours of peace.”

Eastpointe resident Marty Prehn approached Davis, and the two of them worked to bring Code 22 to his community.

“I had gone to one of their events in Detroit,” Prehn said. “Pastor Barry Randolph was hosting a stop-the-violence rally, and I met Pastor Davis there. She shared her story, and I thought that if they can do it in Detroit, we can do it in Eastpointe, and we can do it in other cities.”

Code 22 has led to big strides that Davis said prove their approach can work.

“We’ve seen inmates in the Oakland County Jail agreeing to make the 22nd a day of peace,” she said. “On June 22 of last year, there were no reports of violence in all of Detroit, after making that our prayer and our goal. It was incredible.”

She added that some of what she has seen result from Code 22 in Detroit has amazed her.

“We had a march in which three rival gangs in one of the most violent parts of the city came together and marched together. It started out with just one of the gangs, and then another gang heard about it. Then a third gang joined in. It ended up being a big party. They were barbecuing, there was a bouncy house for the kids — it was amazing. It goes to show that with leadership, there is followship. When people are given a reason to do right, they will.”

Davis said that what was most impressive was how a single day without violence could reduce additional violence.

“The amazing thing we saw, especially in the schools, is that when we get people to acknowledge one day of peace, on the 23rd and the 24th, the peace continued,” she said. “Kids would run up when a fight would start and say ‘Code 22! Code 22! We don’t do that here.’ … It can become a lasting change.”

Davis knows there is no easy solution to ending violence, but she wants people to know that improvements are possible.

“Imagine what it would look like if this was a nationwide program,” she said. “It’s a big ask for humanity, but we need to create a consciousness for peace, and that’s what we don’t have anymore. That’s our goal.”

Davis said she is looking forward to working with Eastpointe residents to see how the initiative can thrive in the community.

“We’ll be working with the Eastpointe neighborhood watch,” she said. “We’ll be working with residents to put out Code 22 yard signs to promote this,” said Davis. “We want different initiatives in different churches in different communities the 22nd of each month doing something different to encourage peace and healing. It’s not a cookie-cutter initiative; it’s asking what can you do in your community or your workplace or your school.”

“In June, we’ll be doing a 22-car procession from the Michigan Central Railroad Station all the way to Mount Clemens, and we’re going to have a rally out there and try to bring unity to the metro Detroit community,” added Prehn.

Eastpointe leaders said they are impressed with the message of Code 22 and want to explore how effective it could be in their city.

“I am curious to see if Code 22 had any impact on violent crimes in the city of Detroit, where the program began,” Eastpointe Director of Public Safety George Rouhib said in an email. “We intend on inviting representatives from Code 22 to our neighborhood watch meetings to speak about the intent behind the program and how it may impact crime in Eastpointe. Eastpointe does not have the volume of crime as our neighboring community; however, researching different approaches is being proactive.”

He added that reducing violent crime is no easy task, but anything that seeks to aid in that effort is a step in the right direction.

“I wish we could have Code 365, where there is peace every day, instead of recognizing one day per month,” Rouhib wrote. “Changing the mindset of a criminal is not an easy task. We shall see as time moves forward.”

More information on Code 22 and yard signs promoting it are available at www.ucoa.org.

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