Thousands of people held hands across the Lorain-Carnegie bridge Sunday afternoon in a peaceful demonstration to denounce hate and violence and promote love.
"This is a non-partisan, non-label, non-religious, non-issue [movement]," said Rita Petruziello, the founder of Circle the City with Love. "It's putting love into the energy field, and that's very powerful because it stays there."
"I think it's important to reflect and try to bring as much peace and calm as we can to Cleveland before the RNC starts," said Paul Harris, a participant and a West Park resident.
The event began with music and song at the base of the Lorain-Carnegie bridge. Participants then walked onto the bridge and spread out on both sides of it, filling almost its entire length of 5,865 feet of it.
"This event shows that the community is coming together as a witness that the violence has to stop," said Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, a participant.
The demonstrators cheered and clapped as a group of Cleveland police officers on bicycles rode over the bridge.
Then they grasped each other's hands and stood in silence for roughly 20 minutes.
"This is the longest I have ever stood and been quiet," said Raymond Jones, a nine-year-old Cleveland resident who attended the event with his parents. "I'm scared when I get older, some people will come and do bad stuff to me."
Raymond Jones, who is black, said he is scared of his future and prays to God for his safety as he gets older.
"I don't want to die when I'm at a young age," he added.
Petruziello said she is working to organize community conversations with local clergy for Circle the City's next event.