GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Fed up with the violence, residents rallied downtown in peaceful protest to put an end to the senseless onslaught.
Tensions ran high as Mothers Against Street Killing (MASK), Moms on a Mission, and the Grand Rapids Local Organizing Committee held a walk to stop the violence starting at MLK park and ending at Franklin and Eastern. "Justice, or else," was the message being shouted through the streets by mothers who've lost a child or loved one to this violence. Teresa Ward, Founder of MASK, has been fighting for justice since her nephew was killed in 2005.
"We've got to put an end to it and let them know we are here and coming together," said Ward. "We've had enough and we're not stopping here."
This is the first of many gatherings to come according to Ward. MASK is hosting a town hall meeting September, 1st at 6 p.m. located in the Baxter Community Center. Ward understands this will give residents a chance to voice their concerns about what's happening in their neighborhoods.
Saturday's timely gathering comes shortly after two shootings that same morning: a man was shot in the buttocks around 4:00 a.m. near Eastern Ave. SE and Bates St, the other was a teenager shot in the shoulder by an assailant wearing a white mask around 9:00 a.m. Both individuals were taken to the hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Both victim's are considered 'lucky' according to the mother's who've lost a child of their own because of gun violence.
"We need to continue working together finding resources that will be able to prevent some of the violence," said Ward. " If we can prevent one, that's one life saved and one life won."