Norfolk residents say peace starts with community youth

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — People from across Hampton Roads gathered in Norfolk for a peace rally and march.

The event was sponsored and organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Peninsula Chapter.

The group met at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza in Norfolk. Former candidate for Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor E.W. Jackson led the group in prayer and spoke about violence in the community. The New Generation All Star Band also played.

Andrew Shannon, the local president of SCLC, said there is a sense of urgency to address violence in the community. In Norfolk, there were 15 people shot over the July Fourth holiday weekend. More recently, Norfolk Police said someone shot and killed a man and woman inside their home on Portview Avenue Monday. Then early Wednesday morning, a man was shot and killed on Jason Avenue.

“It is a sense of urgency that we come together and we show love and we show compassion,” said Shannon.

One of the reasons Shannon said he wanted to bring people together is to find out what needs to be done in the community to stop the unnecessary violence. Many at the rally said the best thing to do is to reach out and protect the youth.

“Parents need to get more involved in what their children are doing now,” said Anita English, who was watching her daughter participate in the marching band.

Katrina Toussant was also at the rally to support her daughter in the band. She added, “We need activities such as the band or other things going on, to let the kids know that adults care about them. There are positive things they can do other than just hanging around negativity all the time.”
Michael Thornton attended the rally and admitted to making bad choices in the past. He spent time in prison as a result. Now that he’s out, he said he’s trying to guide his nieces and nephews. He believes the key to making a better community is keeping young kids involved in recreation centers and youth programs.

“If they could do something they wouldn’t be out here shooting nothing anything up or killing nobody,” said Thornton. “If they have jobs out here, if they go to work, they wouldn’t be out here doing that.”

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