HENRICO, Va. - After a violent start to the weekend, a small group gathered for a Stop the Violence event to raise awareness of the impact shootings can have on a community.
Concerned members of the community along with representatives from Mothers Demand Action (M.D.A.) spent their Saturday afternoon talking at length about the recent surge in shootings, nationally and locally.
“I have a news alert set on my email and every single day I get news about shootings that happen in Hopewell and Petersburg and Richmond,” said Robyn Sordelett with M.D.A. "At a certain point everybody in the room is a survivor because the impact of violence is so far-reaching, like when you throw a stone into a pond and then there are ripples upon ripples.”
Survivors of gun violence, domestic violence and sex trafficking were brought in for Saturday’s event. Darryl and Theresa Bradley each spoke about how gun violence can be at the root of domestic violence and sex crimes.
“My wife was a victim of sex trafficking so let me make this very clear. Her domestic abuser released her to into sex trafficking where a gun was put to her head and she was forced to be a prostitute for almost a year,” said Darryl.
“I thank God that I’m a survivor, but they’re not too many people that have survived these things,” Theresa said.
“Everyone wants to remain in the back of the house and not say anything. It’s very important that we all come together to stop the gun violence,” said Williams.
Elliot Cox is the owner of restaurant where the event took place. Cox says his brother was shot and killed in a hotel room in North Carolina.
“The post-traumatic stress is just terrible... every time I recall it I feel it and that was in 2010,” said Cox. “We can’t just talk about it, we need to be about it. We want to offer a call to action so we can actually impact our community.”
They hope that by speaking out about the reality of gun violence and its effects, the community and leaders will step up to make long-lasting change to prevent this violence from happening again.