Community members come together to take a stance against gun violence in Charleston

Published: Jun. 26, 2021 at 11:31 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Haunting images of those who have died at the hand of a gunman line the stage at Haddad park.

One of them was City Councilwoman Deanna McKinney’s own son.

Reading a poem to share with others, she said not a day goes by that she does not think of him and how he was violently killed by gunfire on his own porch in 2014.

“This month is gun violence awareness month and I believe that we should start talking about it more we don’t talk about it enough,” said McKinney.

Vicky Keene came to the first annual Gun Violence Awareness and Prevention event in Charleston to speak.

Keene’s nephew was also shot and killed by someone who pulled a trigger.

“My nephew was murdered in 2011 for a bag of marijuana, a $250 dollar bag of marijuana, he was shot in the head,” said Keene.

She said when someone dies from gun violence, it creates a domino effect in the community.

“You not only killed someone you took a life and God gives life for a reason. He gives life for you to be here to serve Him not to kill each other,” said Keene.

For Keene, the hardest part is knowing that the people who commit these crimes and those affected by them, are the future of the community.

Patra Mitchell fears for her family as she raises five children that will grow up playing on the streets of Charleston just a block away from one of the recent killings.

“I have known a couple of the kids that died recently due to gun violence. “It’s hurting, we are hurting in the community,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell was calling for change from within the city she calls home.

“We’ve been living here all our lives and we are raising out kids here and the gun violence just needs to stop,” said Mitchell.

For Councilwoman McKinney, she fights inside city hall each day for those who live and work here, facing residents who have been affected by gun violence and others carrying around scarred hearts.

“If you see somebody doing something, police your friends. “Be that type of friend to say, ‘hey don’t do that.’ “Be that type of friend to say hey lets go another way,” said McKinney.

She hopes to bring a community together and bridge the divisiveness intending to use words instead of guns to prevent violent killings.

Community members also asked for stricter gun laws, support from leaders, and a renewed sense of community.

Other organizations showed up to the event including the Charleston Police Department and an organization called Be Smart for Kids.

The group helps people understand how to use, store guns around children and recognize teen suicide.

More information on how to keep kids safe from guns visit this website.

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