Hundreds participate in 'Walk for Freedom' in Las Cruces
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — About 200 people participated in the second annual "Walk for Freedom" in Las Cruces Thursday afternoon.
The walk was organized by Syrian citizen Amer Jandali, better known as DJ Amer, who has experienced the devastation of the ongoing war in Syria firsthand.
"All my memories back home are just destroyed now," Jandali said.
Jandali said he would spend his summers in Syria visiting family, but has been unable to do so since the uprising began more than two years ago.
It's estimated about 90,000 people have been killed and there's also been reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria.
"There's so many mornings when I'm eating my breakfast and watching or reading the news and I have to push my food away and I just start crying," Jandali said.
For the second year in a row, Jandali used his birthday and his popularity as a DJ to spread the word about what's happening in his home country as well as other issues worldwide.
"I'm taking the personal approach for Syria, we're taking the regional approach with Mexico and freedom for all covers everything else," Jandali said.
After the group gathered at the Mesilla Valley Mall, they took to the streets walking along Telshor Boulevard, then down Foothills to Lohman Avenue, then back down Telshor, ending the 45-minute walk at the mall.
Along the way the group turned heads, and had dozens of cars honking in support of the movement.
"It'll bring change, it will plant a seed and that's all we can do," said Mary Nunez, who participated in the walk.
The group even brought out Las Cruces barber Mike Calloway and some his customers at Smitty & Mike's Barbershop who heard the cheers from the group.
Calloway was in the middle of haircut when the group walked across the shop on Telshor Avenue.
"I was kind of interested in what was going on," Calloway said.
He said the walk caught their attention and when he learned it was for a good cause it added more value to what the group was doing.
"That's awesome especially here in Las Cruces," Calloway said.
Jandali said the whole purpose of the walk was to raise awareness for issues those that participated are passionate about.
The group included equal rights supporters as well as supporters for ending the violence in Mexico.
Jandali said awareness is key to change.
"It starts this way and the ripple effect goes so far and if there's a lot of people together causing ripples, we can make waves," Jandali said.