Friday, reports the Providence Journal, hundreds turned out at St. Michael’s church in Providence, Rhode Island to celebrate the life of David Cartagena. I can begin to imagine the scene—when I lived in Providence, I knew the church as an incredibly vibrant, diverse, and powerful place of peace in a deeply troubled neighborhood. It’s hard to think of any spot more worthy of the man being celebrated.
In his own words:
Cartagena, who worked as a streetworker at the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, had once been a gang member, in and out of jail for years. He finally turned his life around and became a respected force for peace and justice in the community. Says the Institute’s website:
In recent years, he was recognized by law enforcement and community organizations as a skilled mediator and valuable partner. A gifted public speaker and storyteller, he was sought after as a speaker in nonviolence trainings. He testified before Congress on gang intervention strategies and has worked with professionals in Connecticut, Guatemala, Massachusetts, Detroit, Michigan and Portland, Oregon on ways to curb youth violence.
In the early morning of May 31st, Cartagena was killed in a car accident on I-95 in Providence.