Rally calls for community, elected officials to join fight against gun violence

Rally calls for community, elected officials to join fight against gun violence
October 21
09:18 2021

The Women’s Gun Violence Prevention Coalition is calling for all hands on deck in the fight against senseless gun violence. During the “Our Opportunity to Love Rally” held last weekend, members of the coalition and several other local organizations made a clarion call to the public, community leaders, and elected officials to do their part to stop the violence. 

There have been 29 homicides in Winston-Salem this year. Many of the victims and suspects in these homicides and the countless senseless shootings have been young people, including 15-year-old William Chavis Raymond Jr., who was shot and killed at Mt. Tabor High School on Sept. 1. Raymond was shot by Maurice Evans Jr., who was also a student at the school. 

While encouraging adults in the community to join the fight against gun violence by investing time and energy in our youth, many of the speakers at the rally held in Blum Park, also urged elected officials to provide funding for programs and organizations already doing the work in the community. 

David Villada, director of Beating Up Bad Habits, a community boxing and mentoring program, said we need individuals in the community who are willing to go into underserved communities and really build a connection with the youth. 

“Call me dumb or stupid, but I’m going into these streets. I’m going into these places because these kids need help too. They are not bad kids, they’re just misunderstood,” Villada said. “I’m not here to judge anybody, I’m just here to work and solve a problem and ask each and every one of you to back us.” 

Effrainguan Muhammad, director of 10KFearless, a group of local men and women trained in conflict resolution, said a lot of grassroots organizations could expand if they had the necessary funding. 

“We can expand our love if we receive some love and you know exactly what I mean. There’s no reason for the county or the city to say they don’t have it … what are you doing, county commission? … What are you going to do City of Winston-Salem?” Muhammad asked. 

Micha James, a local blogger and parent, said some of the issues we are facing have plagued Black communities for generations and it’s time we take a new approach. James noted that “Some of what we’re facing is similar to what my grandparents faced. Give us the resources we need and we’ll get the work done,” James said.

When he addressed the crowd, Terrance Hawkins, director of Lit City, a grassroots initiative geared toward uplifting underserved youth, challenged the community to show up in the lives of our youth with love. 

He said everybody can do something to help the cause. 

“The charge is simple, love,” Hawkins continued. “Love shows up, love speaks up. So I challenge you to show up in the lives of our young people in concrete ways. Everybody can’t be a violence interrupter, everybody can’t be a school teacher, but everybody can do some of the village work that it takes to help our young people.”

At the end of the rally, Karen Cuthrell, a member of The Women’s Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, counted to 29 to represent the number of homicides in the city this year. Cuthrell, who helped coordinate the rally, said the only way to stop the violence is with love. 

“We don’t want any more of our citizens dying. We don’t want any more of our babies going to jail … We’re here today and we have the power to stop it,” Cuthrell said.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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