There have been 28 homicides this year within Minneapolis.
In St. Paul that number is eerily close at 20 – the latest, a man gunned down on Sept. 18 exiting a church where he just completed Bible study. Add to that the alarming number of assaults where a gun was used, and it has created a sense of unease in the Twin Cities. One family directly affected by the violence is working reverse the trend of gun crime in the area – gun crime that disproportionately affects the Black community.
Activist Tyrone Williams, 33, was killed April 3, 2018 when he exited his family home in North Minneapolis on his way to work. Just moments prior, the father of four was on Facebook reading a Dr. Seuss book to his children. His mother and sisters say the shooting may have ended his life, but his legacy of community-building will live on through them. Part of that community building is in the form of the inaugural Guns Down Love Up event taking place tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 21) at Bethune Park, 1304 10th Ave. N. in the field along Humboldt Avenue.
The free, all ages event, takes place from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. and features live entertainment, free food and, according the Williams’ family and friends, the most important component, therapy sessions for those dealing with the trauma of violence.
“It’s time for us to come together and heal as a community,” said Raeisha Williams, sister to Tyrone Williams and former communications director for the Minneapolis NAACP. “If this was a health issue the CDC (Center for Disease Control) would be all over this.”
Williams said the community is coming together to say it will not tolerate the level of violence affecting many.
“When the community steps up and says we’re not going to accept this; that’s how we begin to change,” said Raeisha Williams. “One of the reasons my brother’s killer was brought to justice is because someone in the community stepped up and said what they knew.”
This past January Sid Strickland-Green, 28, was convicted of one count of second-degree murder in the killing of Tyrone Williams.
“We (Black People) need healing,” said Nekima Levy-Armstrong, civil rights attorney and activist and friend of the family. “We’ve seen too many deaths and it’s causing too much trauma in our community. We feel like we’re under siege with violence within the community and violence being perpetrated upon us by police.”
The family of Tyrone Williams said the Saturday event is just the beginning of a movement and they plan to conduct other activities around ending gun violence, including organizing a gun buyback program.
For more information on the event or the program visit www.GunsDownLoveUp.com.