On the 15th year of Detroit’s annual Silence the Violence march, and in the wake of several mass shootings and Congress nearing a bipartisan agreement on stricter gun control laws, “American Black Journal” examines how gun violence affects communities of color. “Silence the Violence” is organized by Pastor Barry Randolph from the Church of the Messiah.  

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“American Black Journal” Producer Marcus Green takes us to the Silence the Violence march and rally on Detroit’s east side, where he hears from participants who gathered to remember victims, and who are calling for a change in gun control laws and violence in America.

Full Transcript:

Protesters Chanting: Silence the violence. Silence the violence. Silence the violence.

Pastor Barry Randolph, Church Of The Messiah Detroit: Boots on the ground is where a lot of the money needs to go. Meet the people who are here, who are making this happen and doing this work every single day. All the different groups that you see out here, you have the ability to sign petitions. You have the opportunity to join those groups, see what they all about, intrermingle and see what fits.

Pastor Barry Randolph: I want to eventually see gun violence eradicated. Bringing all of these people together are the people who are boots on the ground, are the people who are stakeholders. We can eradicate this if we continue to work together to share resources, let people know what’s going on and what’s happening, and make sure that funding go to the right places, but give people an option where they can come in and work towards eradicating gun violence. I believe we can do this.

Teferi Brent, Co-Founder, Dignity 4 Detroit: We know that there are four things directly impacting criminal behavior, which means that criminal mindset and behaviors are born out of four things. One, fatherlessness. Two, substance abuse. Three, a functional illiteracy. And four, of course, mental health. Unresolved trauma. Undetermined trauma. Right. So until we are willing to address those things institutionally and systemically and legislatively, we will continue to have an issue with crimes.

Protesters Chanting: No Justice, No Peace, No Justice, No Peace.

Mary Sheffield, President, Detroit City Council: We have to address the root causes of violence. We have to address the root causes of violence. And to be quite honest it’s not just a law enforcement issue. It’s not a city council issue. It’s not a state issue. It’s not a federal issue. This is a we issue.

Mary Sheffield: This is a you issue. This is a neighborhood issue, a community issue, a church issue. This is all of our issue.

Chief James White, Detroit Police Department: We must work together to put an end to gun violence. And, you know, we talk about it a lot, but it’s time. It’s time to do something. We all have these really big positions and these big titles. But if we don’t do something with them, what’s the use, what’s the purpose?

Protesters Chanting: Love Our Neighbor.

Sheriff Raphael Washington, Wayne County: We’ve got to stop killing our babies. And you know why we’re killing our babies.. Because we’re leaving our guns unattended. We’re leaving our guns as a threat in harm’s way in reach of our babies. That’s gun violence you all. That’s just a different form.

Sheriff Raphael Washington: We’ve got to do what we need to do to make sure And I’m not here to beat up on Second Amendment rights and things. If you want a gun and you legal then you’re legal and if you want to have a gun and it’s your right, you do that. Please, please stop killing our babies. Let’s do what we’re supposed to do as adults and citizens and keep our guns safely stored and locked so our babies can live.

Todd Bettison, Deputy Mayor, City of Detroit: It’s a constant reminder of pulling people together. Working together, unification. Because we all recognize that it’s a problem. You got a lot of different groups doing different things, but they all come together with a common goal. And if you’re a mother, if you lost somebody to gun violence, you’re sitting back oftentimes thinking that you’re alone.

Todd Bettison: This man right here who standing next to me. A good brother to bear his print and you can see the shirt that he’s wearing. We’ve done events like this all over the city. We need for folks to stand up, change the culture and his shirt says stop killing our babies. We serious about that. It’s a public safety issue and everybody in the public wants safety, but it’s about the community coming together because that’s where the solution lies.

Fred Durhal III, Member, Detroit City Council: Get the community involved. In order to stop these brothers from shooting each other, we got to give them something to do. We just can’t look at the problem and not come with the solutions. So I’m glad everyone is here today. Everyone wants to stop. This violence is going to take all of us and we look forward to working together, which I love y’all. Let’s stop this violence now.

Pastor Barry Randolph: We need to uplift the groups that’s doing. But we also need to show up to let everybody know that we’re here to eradicate gun violence. We need, like the different groups and stuff that’s here, we need to let them know, we’re behind you. And when they hold their events and when they do their events, we need to be there to say we’re standing up to them.

Elijah Richardson, CEO, WHOH Detroit: This type of event has a huge impact on our community. We need more events like this to happen more often so that we can stop the violence, not just the gun violence, but all violence.

Dujuan “Zoe” Kennedy, Community Organizer, Force Detroit: This is my second time out. My first time coming, I had just got released from a 15-year sentence in prison. You get to network and you get to build and be more impactful first and foremost. But it also sends a message to the community that it’s not just law enforcement that care or community that care, everybody care because everybody in this community. It’s a human thing. So it gives a good message to the people, but it also encourages people to participate in this type of behavior and these type of solution-oriented things that we’re doing out here.

Teferi Brent: The solution is you. The solutions are those brothers and sisters who are on the frontline every day doing intervention work in our community that you don’t know about.

Pastor Barry Randolph: Remember, we are out here to make noise for folks who no longer have a voice. We’re talking about all of those folks who have died because of gun violence. And we want to lift them up and we want everybody to know that they were a human being and that we love them. That’s why we carry the signs. That’s why we wear the shirt. We want everybody to know that we’re getting ready to take it to the street and that we miss them. But we honor them today.

Teferi Brent: As the people, we should be the ones who are keeping our women safe, our children safe. Our elders safe, our little girls and boys safe. It’s our responsibility.

Protesters Chanting: All power to the people.

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