DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of concerned citizens had a message for Des Moines Saturday afternoon: keep your finger away from the trigger when the weather warms up.
The “Guns Down, Gloves Up” event at Water Works Park aimed to help people in Des Moines open up about the trauma of violence in their communities.
“When I say put your gloves up, it’s about fighting what you’re going through in life: your anxiety, your depression, whatever you go through at home,” said event organizer Jennifer Harris. “The message behind it was tough today, really tough, but I think it got through.”
Several speakers personally affected by gun violence helped spread the message. That includes 14-year-old Paris Walls, whose brother was shot and injured.
“It went through his jaw; I didn’t know if he was going to make it or what was going on,” Walls told the crowd. “I am so thankful that I still have him, but he could have easily been just gone.”
State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad also encouraged the crowd to keep the message of peace long after the gathering.
“When they ask where I live, I don’t say I live in the hood,” Rep. Abdul-Samad said. “I say I live in a neighborhood, because it’s time we put neighbor back in the hood. Until we who want to stop the violence come together and take a stand, we are not going to stop the violence.”