Hundreds gather downtown for a unity walk demanding violence across Memphis to end

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of people, from city leaders to health experts to the general public, came together on Saturday to raise awareness of violence across to city, in hopes to put an end to it.

Crime scene tape and flashing blue lights and families overcome with grief, are a scene that has become the norm across Memphis. But Saturday, heartache has been replaced by hope. These are the new sights and sounds of a city focused on a better future.

“We need peace in the streets,” Lasheila and Jordan Stokes, participants in the march, said. “We have ministers here, I saw a congresswoman over there, the mayor is over there. We are coming together because we want peace in our streets of Memphis. We want the young people to put the guns down.”

Many in the attendance are the faces of those victimized by violence. They are more than a number. They are mothers, fathers, and children who were loved, with loved ones now re-living the pain often.

“While preparing for my father’s wake, I received a call saying that my second born son had been shot and killed in Murfreesboro, TN. He was robbed and shot 12 times and left in a parking lot,” Erika Kelly, a surviving family member, said.

“17 years ago I had to watch my son lay on the ground for over 2 hours…shot in the head with an AK assault rifle,” Stevie Moore, a surviving family member said.

Memphis has experienced a record number of homicides, a record no city wants to break.  But Saturday, the marchers have come out, and they come from all walks of life. But they have the same mission, and that is to find a way to end gun violence.

“It’s not like a game where you get your life back. Because you can’t get your life back. Once somebody takes it, it’s gone,” Joanne Lewis, a surviving family member, said.

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