Neighborhood groups unite for Take Back the Park event at Duncan Park

kward1@herald-leader.comMay 24, 2014 

The Nest Center for Women, Children and Families on Saturday invited the community to stand against violence in Duncan Park, which has made headlines recently because of a shooting there.

The Nest, located at the park, partnered with several other neighborhood groups to host Take Back the Park: Unity Against Violence.

"We want to learn to love this park again," said Lizzy Haynes, special events coordinator for The Nest. "It's our home address, so we really wanted to do something to just bring everybody together."

Food trucks were set up in the park, children played games and several community organizations put up information booths.

As darkness fell, a candlelight service was planned for Antonio Franklin, who died last month after being shot in the park, and "in honor of anyone who has ever experienced fear or violence in this park," according to a Facebook page set up for the event.

The park is on Fifth Street between North Limestone and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Franklin, 21, of Lexington, was shot in the head at the park about 6:30 p.m. April 13. He was found lying near some swings at the playground.

Franklin died the next day at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital after being on a ventilator.

Police said he was an innocent bystander. Three juveniles have since been charged with murder in connection with his death.

On Saturday, Franklin's mother, Anita Franklin, handed out balloons and bracelets in honor of her son.

She said they had often walked through Duncan Park together when he was younger, and she recalled teaching him a lesson her mother had taught her: "I would say, 'Bullets have no eyes.'"

She has formed an organization, Let's Get Better, Let's Do It Together, to combat violence by promoting education and teaching children safety lessons.

"There had been kids here 30 minutes prior to the shooting, children on the swing set," she said.

Joe White and Wanda Jones, who attended Saturday's event, said the park had always been a nice, quiet place until five or six years ago.

"It became ... a little dangerous," Jones said.

Teren Babb said she came out because "I just don't think a park is a place of violence."

She said she wanted to "be here and in some small way show that we think it's wrong."

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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