‘This is not us, and we’re not gonna let that define us’: Community stands against violence


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After a week of shootings city leaders and community members came together on Saturday to stand against gun violence.

Dozens of people linked arms along Broad Street — spreading a message of peace and love.

The event supported by Moms Demand Action is organized by Diana Garlington, whose daughter lost her life in shooting ten years ago.

“This is the site of where she was senselessly taken by gun violence in 2011,” she said.

21-year-old Essence Christal was shot to death while driving on Broad Street. She was not the intended target and her murder remains unsolved.

And because of it, Lock Arms for Peace organizes this event monthly in her honor.

But on Saturday, Garlington said the moment of silence was longer following multiple shootings in the city last week.

“Continue to bond, continue to spread love and peace,” she told the crowd.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza was at the event and told 12 News, it’s even more important to come together.

“We are all shocked by what’s happened this past week and the community responds. This is not us and we are not going to let that define us. We are going to work together for change and work for what our city needs,” he said.

Last week, Providence and Pawtucket saw five shootings, including three homicides and Providence’s largest shooting in city history.

Attendees of Saturday’s rally said the answer isn’t simple, but starts with mentoring the youth and giving them better opportunities.

“The root cause of most of the violence we’re seeing is lack of opportunity and poverty. We need to continue down the path of enhanced educational opportunities, summer learning, after school programming, youth programming,” Mayoral Candidate Brett Smiley said.

“Have solutions that arise from the neighborhood and from the community in order to bring our younger generation some hope and opportunities,” Mayoral Candidate Gonzalo Cuervo said.

Members of U.S. Senator Jack Reed’s office were present at the rally. The senator issued the following statement in response:

“Today’s event was a testament to Diana and her passionate, selfless advocacy and activism. We must unite as community against gun violence and it’s great that so many people are taking to the streets to help make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. I salute Diana and Moms Demand Action for helping to lead the way.”

Senator Jack Reed

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