Campaign Nonviolence aims to create a safer Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A push to silence the gunshots and put a stop to violence was the focus of an interfaith vigil in Downtown Memphis on Sunday.

People from all walks of life stood hand in hand at the National Civil Rights Museum to begin talking about how communities can work together to stop the growing murder rate in Memphis.

So far in 2016, Memphis has already had more killings than all of last year.

Campaign Nonviolence organized more than 500 groups from all over the country that are working to put a stop to violence in their communities.

Tara Johnson and Kevin Cash wished the peace came sooner.

"It's definitely been devastating," Johnson said.

Johnson lost her son, Curtis, to a gunshot last year.

He was just 18 years old and a couple of weeks away from graduating high school.

"His life was ended before it even started," Johnson said.

The group that gathered Sunday night was one of several across the United States pushing for a more just, peaceful and nonviolent world.

"We need to move together. We're painting pictures of what that could look like. We're imagining from different faiths, from different walks, from different avenues, with different levels of privilege in Memphis -- what that could possibly look like if we work together," Rev. Floridia Jackson, with Memphis School of Serving Leadership, said.

"Instead of one action just being focused on one issue, this is bringing all of those together to address the needs of our society," Monica Juma said.

While each individual group and community is important, organizers said it is time everyone started working together to fix the problems that lead up to violence.

"When there are no jobs, that's violence. When people are in despair -- when there are health care disparities, that creates frustrations in community," Jackson said.

Organizers told WREG one of the first things anyone can do is check themselves to make sure they are living a nonviolent lifestyle by watching what they do and what they say.

On Friday, Sept. 23, the peace and interfaith community will space themselves around the city on designated street corners with banners.

This action will take place between 5 p.m and 6 p.m.

Afterward the group plans to gather at First Congregational Church with food and reflection on this action.