FAIRGROUND PARK – The sun shone down brightly on a group of mothers in Fairground Park Saturday as they marched together in solidarity.
For many of these women, the hurt of losing a child to gun violence in the streets of St. Louis is a painful memory that has been etched into their minds and across their hearts forever.
From noon until 2 p.m., hundreds of residents, neighbors and supporters gathered in north St. Louis for the 2019 Mothers’ March to End Gun Violence.The protest was the latest cry for help after what appears to be an uptick in the number of children dying at the hands of gun violence across the city in the past few months.
Since January, at least 23 children have been killed by guns in the St. Louis area, and that number continues to rise every day.
St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones was one of the organizers for this year’s march. Members of two groups, STL Mothers in Charge and Moms Demand Action, showed up with hand-made signs and bullhorns in full support.
Mothers who have had to bury their children were given options for tools or resources they may need, including therapy to help deal with their grief.“When Revs. Traci Blackmon and Karen Anderson contacted me to help with this march, I couldn’t say no,” Jones said.
“There has been an epidemic of crime in our city for decades, and this summer it just seems that it feels different, that there’s so many children dying at the hands of gun violence,” she went on to say.
“We want to make sure that we continue to call on our local, state and federal elected officials to invest in our communities, because there is a direct correlation between disinvestment and between poverty and gun violence.”
Trina Houshmand is the mother of 13-year-old Clifford Swan III, who was gunned down Thursday night by an 18-year-old in front of an apartment complex in north St. Louis County.
Although the pain of losing her child is still fresh, Houshmand said it was important that she attended the women’s march to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence.
“My cousin told me to come. I didn’t want to come, because I didn’t feel no one knew how I felt,” Houshmand said. “It still hurts. Standing here with them is not healing me, but it’s helping me and it’s showing me that I’m not by myself.”
“I don’t want them to forget about my son. He was a good baby,” Houshman said through tears.
Several community leaders made an appearance at the Fairgrounds to support the mothers and their fight against violence. Among them were Sheriff Vernon Betts, a representative for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, State Auditor Nicole Galloway and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed.
“I am not happy to be out here, but I am glad that everyone out here understands that we have to take our community back,” Nasheed said. “They understand that we have to take to the streets because we truly know that we can make a difference in our community once we come together.”
The first Mother’s March was held in 2014 after the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.