As summer begins, there are new calls to end the violence on our streets. Our leaders are hoping we don't see a repeat of last year, when three children were gunned down on Cleveland streets.
Throughout Ohio, homicides rose and experts attribute the spike to growing gang rivalries
Gun shots, gang rivalries, loyalty to the death, that’s the life that was introduced to Jessica at the tender age of ten.
“They ask where you’re from, you tell them where you’re from, ‘oh you such and such, you’re such and such.’ So automatically, where you’re from you already got put into it whether you want to be or not,” she said.
Considered a non-active gang member, when I spoke to her, she couldn’t use her real name because protection and her safety could be impeached. And she knows all too well about what can happen when trouble comes knocking.
“When it comes down to violence or someone that’s amongst the group or whatever, that’s when retaliation happens, and it just never stops until okay, we’re going to get you or you’re going to get us…no one survives,” said Jessica.
After three innocent children, Major Howard, Ramon Burnet, and Aavielle Wakefield, were caught in the crossfire and killed last year, jessica's now worried, we could see a repeat this year.
She said, “everyone carries a gun. Everyone, females, kids…but you know it’s time, this is the time when some people are about to get released and unfinished business got to get taken care of.”
That's why a few community churches plan to make a stand this weekend, holding hands across the woodland neighborhood, asking for peace...
“We gotta protect our children on every level,” said Dr. Andrew Clark, Pastor of Trinity Outreach Ministries and one of the leaders organizing this weekend’s events. “We have power in our hands and we can truly make a difference.”
Now a mom, working full time, trying to turn things around, jessica will join in, while making a plea of her own.
“Put the guns down, don’t get innocent by standers….we all grew up with each other until we branched off and did our own things, so we’re basically killing our childhood friends.”
This is the seventh year for the weekend gathering called "a day of reclaiming." Events will take place in both the woodland and Glenville neighborhoods. Leaders will talk about gun violence, sex trafficking and mass incarceration. It’s all the start to a summer long initiative.