Community fun, serious message: Rally to end gun violence against children to be held Saturday

This weekend concerned citizens and activists will take to the streets in an effort to end senseless gun violence -- especially against children.

"Just think one bad decision can affect generations," said Negas Vu.

It’s a message that Negus Vu, founder of The Peoples Action, hopes these young men take to heart, and one he and others will drill home Saturday with Stop Killing Our Babies.

It is their third annual march and rally against senseless gun violence. Detroit has seen more than enough of it.

"That 12-year-old girl that recently got shot at the park by another 18-year-old, she was at least the 50th child that was shot here in the city of Detroit."

The effort was born from the death of Francesca Marks – the mother of seven fatally shot in 2019 as an argument on a basketball court escalated to gunplay. Marks was struck while shielding her children.

The last two rallies were held at Rouge Park where Marks was killed.

This year it’s Gorham Playground in the Seven Mile and Greenfield area. The location could not be more strategic.

"We asked to find out through DPD data what neighborhood has the highest volume of gun violence and crime, and in particular on the west side," Negas Vu said. "And this is one of the areas that was chosen."

Vu noted that in many cases the people pulling the triggers are young people.

"The thing that we are seeing with these children shooting other children, its an outcry, right?" he said. "It's a sign that says we need attention, we need love. Y'all need to focus on us."

The Detroit Police Department is coming alongside Vu and The Peoples Action to bolster their efforts.

"DPD, we cannot do this job without our other organizations, so we have to be together as a collective to make things happen," said Second Deputy Chief Kyra Joy Hope.

Hope says efforts like this help build trust between police and the public.

"I have been out here talking to the kids, talking to the girls, telling them who I am, and they are like, 'Can I stay connected,'" she said. "How cool is that? You have a dynamic conversation and you're being very transparent. They're looking at me with my jeans on and my shirt, and I am looking like them."

"We need more elders, more grown men and grown women in our urban communities on a day-to-day basis showing them love and giving them attention," Vu said. "Letting them know that there is somebody out here who cares for them. These children feel that nobody cares for them. So if nobody cares for them then 'Why should I care for anybody.'"

The Stop Killing Our Babies march and rally will be at Gorham Playground on Pembroke and St Marys from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be bounce houses, free food, live performances and cash prizes for kids who come up with the best business ideas.

The event is free and open to the public.