An annual event to stop gun violence is taking on added meaning this year after multiple mass shootings have dominated headlines. The “Silence the Violence” rally and march will once again be held at the Church of the Messiah on Detroit’s east side.
The event on Saturday will include speeches by government officials and survivors of violence before transitioning to a march along Lafayette Street.
This year, the goal is to call for change, says Ryan Bates, a steering committee member for End Gun Violence Michigan, one of the participating groups.
“For too long, our legislators have done nothing while our cities and our schools have been wracked by gun violence,” says Bates. “The march is a place for people to come together to remember people, those they’ve lost, for survivors to grieve and to demand that our legislators take action now.”
“It’s been six months since the Oxford shooting and our legislators have done nothing to make us safer and to control the gun violence. So we’re going to be calling on our legislators to act now, before more children die.” —Ryan Bates, End Gun Violence Michigan
Bates says organizers of the event want to see policies that require safe gun storage, universal background checks and that will keep guns out of government buildings.
“It’s been six months since the Oxford shooting and our legislators have done nothing to make us safer and to control the gun violence. So we’re going to be calling on our legislators to act now, before more children die,” Bates says.
Silence the Violence attendees are encouraged to bring pictures of loved ones whose lives were lost to gun violence as part of a video project and social media campaign.
“There’ll be a video crew on site, asking folks to take one minute to share about the people that they’ve lost to gun violence,” Bates says. “We’ll be compiling those videos into a documentary that can show the impact that gun violence has on our communities.”
Pastor Barry Randolph of the Church of the Messiah is the lead organizer of the Silence the Violence event. Bates says Randolph started it 15 years ago after being tired of doing funerals for young people who were shot to death.
“He’d seen too much gun violence in his neighborhood and decided to call people of conscience together to march and to call for peace and change,” Bates says.