Dozens march to end gun violence, including parents of 1-year-old shot
Members of the West Palm Beach community took to the streets Saturday to march to City Hall in an effort to end gun violence.
The event, called The Hope Dealers March for Change, was organized by youth delinquency and gun violence prevention group, Inner City Innovators.
“When I say, ‘no more more violence, you say, we want peace!,’ " chanted organizer, Ricky Aiken.
Demonstrators began gathering at Heart and Soul Park in West Palm Beach at 9 a.m. before marching to City Hall.
There, several people impacted by gun violence spoke, including the Broward County parents of the 1-year-old boy shot in the leg on Memorial Day during a mass shooting in Hollywood.
"Its really tough and sad to see," said Barbara Engle, 1-year-old Amari's mother. "Instead of enjoying his childhood, his first summer walking, he's, you know, going to be recovering." It's a concept that's hard for the parents to swallow, and understandably, it's hard to relive the moment they almost lost their son.
“Terrifying is an understatement," Engle said.
"It isn’t the word," added his father, Joshua Cleveland.
Stories like there's are the reason Aiken organized the event for a third year in a row.
"To send a message to young men growing up in this community — young men who are most at risk to perpetrate and be victimized by violence — we’re here to show that their lives matter, they matter to us as a community, they matter to us as a city. And they should matter to us as a society," Aiken said
Aiken said he believes without others to guide him to a path of non-violence, he would likely not be here today.
“I am here because people like you decided to get our of your comfort zone and to emphasize with people like me. And that’s the way forward," Aiken said.
For Amari's parents, they said they hope others hear the message so many came to demonstrate, and in turn, take that message in stride.
“The people who make the laws — they have the control, they have the resources," Cleveland said. "They’re in office for a reason. We just want them to do their jobs."
People were wearing orange, because this day falls on Wear Orange Weekend in support of Gun Violence victims.
It's in support of the more than 43,000 Americans who lost their lives to gun violence every year.
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