As the March For The Unheard Voices got underway at Rodney Square, many citizens speak out against the city’s response to it’s biggest epidemic.
WILMINGTON (DE): The march for the unheard voices got underway at Rodney Square on Sunday afternoon as many mothers who have lost a child to gun violence speak out about this growing epidemic in the city. Delaware Newsline’s George Shea has more.
It was a day of many things, but it was definitely a sad day, as many tears fell on the faces of the unheard voices. Mothers, fathers, and other family members who have lost a loved one to gun violence.
It was also a day of hope, remembrance, reflection, and a day to speak out against city officials who have done very little to help with the gun violence that has plagued the city for years.
The march, which got underway at 30th and N. Market Streets and ended at Rodney Square for a rally is not the first gun violence march, and most certainly won’t be the last. Hosted annually by Pastor Derrick Johnson who’s known to the community as “Pastor D”, explains the event was created to honor the victims.
“We wanted To recognize and memorialize the victims of the violence in the city of Wilmington, as we do the 911 victims, because this is an act of terrorism also, as domestic terrorism is taking place in our communities, and we wanted to honor them and provide an outlet for these mothers and, and fathers that you see here today of these victims.”
One can only hope it’s not their child, not today, not any day. As one mother put it, “It’s a mothers worst nightmare.” She has lost two of her children to gun violence. Trying her best to hold back the tears as she expresses her frustrations against the gun violence and city officials who have failed to respond appropriately to the city’s biggest problem.
“I live on West twenty-second street. This week, three shootings, two deaths.,” she says as she speaks to the crowd. “Another mother has to go through what I had to go through. We need to come together and march through these neighborhoods where our children are being killed. They aren’t being killed in the Square, they are being killed in our neighborhoods. They are being killed there. We need to march to let them know ‘no justice, no peace’. It’s that simple. No justice, no peace. We need to save our children”
Speaking about mothers of Wilmington’s most recent gun violence deaths, “We need to make them understand. They are gone. We are left behind. We are left to try to pick up the pieces.”
Johnson said the purpose of the event was also to demand action from city officials.
“It was one to place a demand on the mayor’s office here in the city of Wilmington to hear the people of the city – and receive this program idea that we have and the solutions from the city to plead with him to help us with regard to the murders and the violence that’s taken place in the community, because as it stands, he and his administration have turned a deaf ear to us with personality politics, and it has to stop.”
When asked whether the city is doing enough to address the gun violence problem, Johnson says he knows they are not doing enough.
“I know, the city is not doing enough because the administration has been selective in who they will deal with it in terms of solutions. As I’ve said, I brought a young man, 15 years old, who told them the benefits of the approach that we’re proposing, which is ‘on street intervention,’ and they ignored us and have essentially blackballed me I guess, and it’s just not right, and it certainly isn’t smart.”
When asked how he felt about Mayor Purzycki or Chief Tracey not attending today’s event, Johnson says not only did they not show up but they didn’t even send a representative.
“Yeah. Well, we came here with the intention of presenting to the mayor, not an antagonistic way presenting him with this packet of solutions from the citizens. And not only did he not come, he didn’t even send a representative to receive it. And what kind of governance is that? Don’t we have a right to expect that our mayor would and the chief – as well as the chief of police as well, I have not physically met the chief as of yet. I’ve seen him on a national story by the Miami Herald that I’m on. So we were both featured on the same news story. However, he’s right here in the city of Wilmington, and as active as I am in this particular arena, I’ve yet to meet him. So that speaks volumes to me about where his administration is.”
Sarah Williams said she is all about change but she doesn’t think they are getting the support they should be getting.
“I’m all about change. And I want positive change and the community working with Pastor D who has been very wonderful. And I don’t think that he gets enough support like he should get from the community where we have all the pastors, we have all the leaders, no one wants to step up – But pastor D is not afraid to go into the communities. He’s not afraid to go in there and give these people hope. I joined up with Pastor D to help him to get into the the communities to bring about a change, you know, because people they they just want somebody that care. And they’re not getting that from the leaders, the elected politicians, politicians, as you want to call them. We did go to the mayor’s office. We did follow all the proper channels, we notified them, we took down everything that they needed to know about today and we were under the impression that they were going to show and no one showed which is really a disappointment for the community.
To date there have been approximately 133 injuries and 27 deaths as a result of gun violence in Wilmington. March saw the lowest figures as we moved into the Coronavirus lockdown statewide, with only four injuries as a result of Wilmington gun violence.