ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – As the sun goes down in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods, it’s time for NightLIFE to walk the streets.
NightLIFE is an outreach program run by the Rev. Kenneth McKoy, a pastor at Progressive A. M. E. Zion Church, promoting street safety by walking and sending message of loves to those they encounter.
“We also believe that things will get much more violent if we don’t do this type of direct violence intervention or violence interruption,” McKoy says.
During their walks, NightLIFE members don yellow vests, talk to people, pray and hand out sandwiches. Some people they meet are homeless while others are just passing through.
Tonight, NightLIFE volunteers are going to the Greater Ville neighborhood where McKoy says “over half of the homicides in the city take place.”
But isn’t the reverend worried about his volunteer’s safety?
“That’s always at the forefront of my thinking,” McKoy says. However, he says his walking ministry has the support and protection of the city’s police.
“The St. Louis Police Department, they have been absolutely awesome,” he says. “I met with the chief and he’s assigned officers to us. They don’t necessary walk with us, because that could sort of put us in places in peril also but they’re out there, they know where we are and they check on us from time to time.” McKoy adds the police department even helps train NightLIFE volunteers.
In fact, St. Louis Police even train the nightlife volunteers. For the last few years, many Americans have felt they needed to choose between concern over police violence against blacks or pointing out black-on-black violence.
“I think both issues are the same,” McKoy says. “One is not to the inclusion of the other. I was in Ferguson, I was a Ferguson protester.”
McCoy says he’s walked the streets with a very diverse group of people, diverse both politically and racially.
“My son got shot five times…as a pastor I eulogize the number of young people” McKoy says. “So there were a lot of things that happened to me, that said to me that this year, probably, is the most important issue facing the black community.”
A new chapter of NightLIFE opened in Kansas City recently where over one thousand people joined their first walk.
McKoy says NightLIFE is a politically and racially diverse group that’s always looking for more volunteers to walk with them.
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