NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens marched down Chesapeake Ave. in Newport News Saturday to take back the community and think of ways to save children from gun violence.
From young children holding hand-drawn signs to adults and city leaders chanting for change, people from all areas of the community united.
The march comes four days after a shooting outside a Menchville High School basketball game that killed 17-year-old Justice Dunham.
“Everyone has a role to play in making sure we get ahead of this,” said Onyx Hicks of the Portsmouth NAACP.
Hicks told 10 On Your Side she came out to Newport News to show her support and come up with solutions to end youth violence.
A powerful gathering that began with a prayer and ended with a march to Hampton brought Tiffany Boyle to tears. Boyle’s daughter attends Menchville High School and her father teaches there.
“What can we do to show them this is not the answer and how can we show these kids a different way and show them that we’re here for them. No judging. We’re just flat out here for them,” Boyle said.
One organization even handed out teddy bears to the children who marched alongside their parents.
“Having something that you can hold, something that you can hug when you’re crying, something that you can touch when you’re feeling lost goes further than any words. It goes so much further than anything anybody could ever say,” said Michelle Hill of Club 66.
Hill and others from her organization told 10 On Your Side they mentor children in high-risk neighborhoods.
“Our organization actually feels what’s going on in these neighborhoods. A lot of them do what they do because they really don’t have anybody else guiding them. A lot of them don’t believe anybody cares. We’re here to try to be a mentor, to try to be resources for them, to show them that there are other choices to make outside the loss of life,” Hill explained.
Elliott Hill, an activist from Portsmouth, oversees the nonprofit Prevention, Reform and Recidivism (PRR). He wants to see the seven cities do more to tackle gun violence and youth outreach together since the violence doesn’t stop at city lines.
“These grassroot activists need actual help, to come through here and do marches is great but we need actual help because its going to become a universal problem,” Hill stated.
The community march was organized by Newport News school board member John Eley.