COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Local advocacy groups are banding together saying enough is enough, urging people in Columbus to put the guns down.
A rally held Wednesday night comes after the city faced a violent Fourth of July weekend with shootings and its 105th homicide.
It was organized by Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children and many people shared their stories.
One of the speakers was Tyrae Walker, an incoming high school junior, who talked about how gun violence impacts his life as a young person in the city.
“When we were watching the fireworks, I kept thinking there’s a possibility that I could die today and it’s a very sad reality,” he said.
Walker, 15, was among the youngest to speak at a rally calling for an end to gun violence in the city.
“To think of how, most of my life, I have not had a father due to gun violence, I wouldn’t want anyone to experience that,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy and I truly believe if we can change that, it’s something that we should do.”
Seneca Ridley-Turner addressed the crowd as well. Her daughter, Makenzi Ridley, was fatally shot at Far East Recreation Center June 24.
“I don’t wish this on nobody. So I’ve seen on the news this new initiative for safer parks. My skin is numb right now and I hope it all works out, but this right here,” Ridley-Turner said, trailing off as she became overcome with emotion.
Rally organizer Malissa Thomas-St. Clair supports the city’s new imitative — putting officers in city parks. She believes it’s one step in the right direction.
“I think any proactive action is a great start,” she said. “I think it is the consistency that will build what we’re looking for solutions.”
Thomas-St. Clair wants the community to come together as a whole to send a message to those on the wrong path, especially the youth.
“We love you,” she said. “We need you to be safe. You have a gang of mothers who have already lost their children. We don’t want your mother to be the mother that joins our sisterhood. We don’t want anyone else.”
Walker said that is a message everyone needs to hear.
“I truly believe that we need to talk about it because it’s something that affects us greatly,” he said.
Thomas-St. Clair said she understands that there is no easy fix to solving the issues Columbus faces when it comes to violence, but her group is here to help anyone looking for a way out.