COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus community leaders are calling for a ceasefire in honor of the upcoming Juneteenth holiday.

At a press conference outside a barbershop Sunday, city leaders pleaded with people to make a change and encourage one another to end the violence.

As of Sunday, the city has 89 homicides for 2021.

“We have exceeded the homicide rate of where we were last year, and that is unacceptable,” said Charity Martin-King, president-elect of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

This is why leaders are calling for a 24-hour ceasefire on Saturday, June 19, the Juneteenth holiday which celebrates the emancipation of slaves in America.

The press conference featured dozens of local activists, including pastors, educators, and business owners like Al Edmondson. 

Edmondson has been running the A Cut Above The Rest barbershop in Columbus for more than 30 years, and says the violence has gotten out of hand.

We have to do something,” he said. “We have to send a message, not only to the city of Columbus, but send it to the nation, because all of this is going around as people are coming out of COVID.”

Edmondson held this press conference at his barbershop in Bronzeville, calling upon city officials, educators, and faith leaders, to encourage everyone to end the violence for the holiday.

“We’re telling everybody in honor of Juneteenth, let’s tone it down for 24 hours and see what we can do, and if we can get that done, we can do more,” he said.

“We’re really go to adjust and deal with the issues that are facing our community in a way that is aggressive, grassroots, hands-on, and building synergy and mutual concern” Martin-King said.

Martin-King said the announcement was about more than just bringing awareness, but also creating change. While the hope is to have a 24-hour period of peace, the goal is to make it a permanent one.

“No matter what happens on the day, it’s the mentality and the perspective of people coming together around the ceasefire initiative as a whole,” Martin-King said. “It’s not a one-day thing. We’re in this for the long haul.”