Marching for change

Published 9:09 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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Tuesday evening saw residents and students march down the streets of Downtown Suffolk to take a stand against gun violence in the city.

Led by youth community group Project Power, the organization held an inspirational walk through the streets of Suffolk on Tuesday, April 9, to bring awareness to gun violence and the damage that it causes to various lives. The peaceful walk saw residents and students marching the streets with signs wishing for an end to the violence before wrapping up for a Project Power memorial with artwork of recent victims at Lokee Restaurant.

Patricia Wilson, says that once she got the news of the walk, she came out in memory of her son, Rasheed Talley, who was killed at the age of 27 on August 22. She expressed hopes of the walk helping to stop ongoing gun violence.

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“I just hope they stop all the gun shooting and all that,” Wilson said. “Because it’s too much. It’s getting to be too much.”

Dr. Anita Lewis expressed a desire to help make a difference.

“It’s important to me to be out here because we are faced with a whole lot of violence here in the City of Suffolk,” Lewis said. “I, too, want it to stop, so I am out here to make a difference.”

Valerie Boykin and fellow Alpha Kappa Alpha members say that stopping gun violence is one of the organization’s main goals in the region.

“So it’s very important that we come together with other civic organizations and the citizens to do what we can to stop gun violence in our city,” Boykin said. “There were two shootings just last night. Too many, far too many affecting our young people.”

On her 12-year-old son taking part in the walk, Jamila Brown talked about how proud she was.

“This is a very proud moment for me because, as you see, there’s been a lot of violence right now,” Brown said. “…and for him to want to be a part of trying to stop the violence, it’s a very proud moment.”

The walk also saw Interim Chief of Police James Buie with his family marching during the walk. Buie talked about finding out about the walk on Facebook and wanting to join in the effort.

“Nothing more important than that right now as a community and a police department to try to end gun violence,” Buie said. “And what better way than these young people spreading the word.”

On what he wants those in his department and the community to know regarding gun safety, Buie expressed the responsibility that comes when pulling the trigger.

“It doesn’t know any name, it doesn’t know any age, it doesn’t know any race. It just keeps traveling until something stops it.”

On his wife and grandson joining the walk, Buie says he and his family are also affected by the violence.

“When I get called into work at 3 in the morning over some young person being shot, they have to deal with that reality also,” Buie said. “My grandson Grayson, seven years old, it’s very important for him to know that gun violence is real and the responsibility that comes once he picks up a handgun and decides to pull the trigger, the consequences that can bring.”

Executive Director Project Power and Walk Organizer Tray Burch says that the youth organization works together to “art, spoken word, and activism.” Burch talked about how the walk was organized. 

“This was an idea that a lot of our youth came up with that we thought would be impactful in the city and we just want to see change,” Burch said.