Pastor organizes rally to bring peace to Parlier

PARLIER, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Central Valley pastor says he's determined to curb violence in a Fresno County city where gang activity is taking a toll on innocent victims. He organized a rally in Parlier where dozens of people gathered on Saturday to promote unity.

Michael Garcia is hard at work trying to bring life to an otherwise discouraged community. He doesn't even live in Parlier, but he says the violence there affects everyone.

"I've been focusing on Parlier because of a lot of the violence we've been having. We've been having a lot of senseless shootings," said Garcia.

He's a street minister by day, and once a month organizes these Peace Maker events. The city of Parlier co-sponsors the rallies.

"They bring chairs, tables, blockades; they block the streets for me," said Garcia.

The focus on this Fresno County community started about seven months ago for Garcia. Back in February, a 16-year-old girl -- caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting -- was shot in the eye. In May, three young men who were at a park were shot by armed suspects. Then just Friday morning, investigators say a 65-year-old man was found shot to death in a Parlier driveway.

"Be in agreement in one thing: stop the violence and bring peace back to our streets in Parlier," said Garcia.

At the peace rallies, free food distribution is offered to anyone who wants to hear their message. All of the food, Garcia says he pays for himself.

"This is all just an investment to help other people. I believe if you don't have purpose, then you don't have meaning in your life," said Garcia.

"You hardly see this, and it's good that he's involved and that he's doing this for us and our community," said Hilda De La Fuente with the Parlier Parks and Recreation Department.

Garcia says every month he'll be helping this city until the bloodshed stops.

"Until we see children playing back in the streets and until we get our neighborhoods back," said Garcia.

The rallies are completely free and everyone is welcomed. Garcia says he's also planning a separate event in West Fresno next week.
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