BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Community members, law enforcement officers and city leaders came together Friday evening in support of ending gun violence. Students Demand Action held a peace rally in an effort to speak to their peers and encourage change.
During the peace rally, many people voiced their opinions on ways to prevent gun violence. Some believe more needs to be done by law enforcement and city leaders, where others say lessons on gun violence belongs in the home.
In the past five months, there’s been a total of 45 homicides in the city of Birmingham.
“I was starting to see a lot of people my age, a lot of older people. Mothers, children, like, you name it, there were people being killed and shot all around the city,” said Salome Montague of Students Demand Action Birmingham.
Montague is paving the road for change by leading the conversation around ending gun violence.
“Hope to see more action from all the parties around the Birmingham area who work in law enforcement to try to end the violence, but a lot of it is between people who know people and domestic disputes. So, it starts with us and they can help us in the process,” said Montague.
To help get illegal firearms off the streets, the Birmingham Police Department says they’ve collected over 1,100 this year.
“That’s a lot of weapons. To just be where we are, it exceeds last year at this point, and we are going to continue to make every effort we can to make the community as safe as we possibly can,” said Police Chief Patrick Smith.
There are others in the community that believe the conversation around gun violence belongs in the home.
“There are so many influences out here and I feel like if a child can talk to you, and they have someone who believes in them and they don’t want you to look down on them, they perform better. So don’t just let your kids go. Even at 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, it doesn’t matter how old they are. Holding them accountable and so when they feel like you’re holding them accountable, then they perform better,” said Pattie Reasor, an educator with the Birmingham City Schools.
The Birmingham Police Department is also sharing an update on their real-time crime center, where they are combining all technology to get a clear picture of crime in the community. It is planned to be set up and running in July.