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Detroit rally calls for community to take a stand against child abuse

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Speeches and songs filled the air on the Detroit northwest side on Saturday as parents, children and activists gathered to prevent child abuse.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness rally at the Detroit Service Learning Academy was co-organized by Motherhood Matters and Nicole Massey, who teaches at the academy.

Massey, who is embroiled in a custody matter and has a problem with medication prescribed for her child, said the rally was one of many she organized and held at the academy to highlight issues and issues that affect the community .

“I’m here to defend myself as a teacher against child abuse,” said Massey on Saturday at the academy on West Seven Mile near Evergreen. “My message is to keep talking every day and save lives.”

Gwendolyn Thomas (left), Rev. Damon Dillard and Alana Dillard will raise their fists together during the rally on Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness on Saturday May 1, 2021.

Event co-host Alana Dillard told attendees to stand up and be a “strong advocate” for children.

“It’s not fair that the little people don’t have the power to speak,” said Dillard. “Mental, physical abuse and injustice will not be tolerated. It is time for you to go out and make a difference. Do a little bit of work on these matters.”

Dawn Floyd, a breast cancer survivor who set up a foundation to help women in difficulty undergoing breast cancer treatment, said children and parents are sometimes afraid to speak up when abuse occurs.

“Events like this are important because people don’t know about (the abuse) and it’s happening right here in the neighborhood,” Floyd said.

Lishei Sanford (left) and her daughter Xj'myi Sanford perform a special dance during the Child Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Awareness rally on Saturday May 1, 2021.

Well-known businesswoman and education counselor Gwendolyn Thomas, Massey’s aunt, told rally attendees, “I want to ensure that women and children are treated fairly by court officials and others.”

Ten year old Franklin Thomas IV attended the rally on Saturday with his father.

“I’m here to protest the mental abuse of children,” said Thomas as he heard songs and speakers. “Small children cannot protect themselves.”

Rev. Damon Dillard (left), Dawn Floyd and Alana Dillard hold signs during the rally.

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Dusty Kennedy