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Peace Center and Garden opens in Austin neighborhood

CHICAGO -- With so much violence plaguing Chicago’s streets, a new center opened on Thursday dedicated to peace and violence prevention.

The Peace Center and Garden, which is located in the Austin neighborhood, is being billed as a hub for violence prevention and trauma therapy programs.

On Thursday, the garden was unveiled which features a sculpture by artist Timothy Schmalz called, “Thou Shall Not Kill,” that depicts Jesus weeping over a gunshot victim.

The garden is named in honor of Father Augustus Tolton, a former slave who pastored to the poorest of poor in Chicago in the late 1800s.

Cardinal Blase Cupich said the Peace Center will cater to Austin’s 30,000 residents, whose community has seen its share of Chicago’s violence.

“We are here to deal with the root causes of violence which is what we are want to highlight today,” he said.

Local resident Doris Roper brought her great grandson, Yashua, to check out the garden and with the message to never stray far from the essence of what this is all about—peace and love.

“I want him to see it, so he will remember what will happen if you pick up a gun,” she said. “I'll be 76 next month and I have seen a lot and God brought me through it all. I couldn't do it on my own."