Three small towns are coming together to put an end to gun violence in their communities.
The towns of Madison, Lovejoy and Venice combined only have a population of roughly 6,000 people. But, they all have something in common: gun violence. Now, these three small towns are taking a stand, pleading for it come to an end.
Peacekeepers, an organization whose agenda is to curb gun violence and give the youth more opportunities, held its first annual Peace March and Rally in Madison, Ill. on Saturday.
Madison resident Annette Compton remembers the pain of losing her son.
"That's the most hurtful feeling to get a phone call on to say that your son just got murdered or your daughter just got murdered."
Compton’s 16-year-old son Malik Garrett was gunned down in 2014. Craig Miller, who was 17 at the time he was charged, was found guilty for Garrett’s murder in April. He will be sentenced in August.
"He didn’t get a chance to live his life to be an adult. He never got a chance to drive a car. He never got a chance to have a kid,” Compton said. “It is a lot more to life than these streets."
While on Christmas break in 2011, Miranda Williams' 21 year-old son Jarret Mosby was shot and killed. He was a senior in his last year at the University of Missouri.
"He worked so hard to get his degree and for you all to just come in and snatch all of that away from him for your selfish reason, it's just a pain that I can't just shake," she said.
Deneshion M. Swope was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of Mosby in August of 2015.
But, what pains Williams even more, her grandson, Jarrett junior, is now without a father.
"He wasn't a thug by any means,” Williams said. “He was a good, educated, young black man."
Both mothers are sharing their story to raise awareness about the gun violence in their communities, hoping it can all come to an end.
"Pick up a book, do something than just sitting up here thinking you're in a gang, running around thinking you're tough. It doesn't make you tough," Compton said.
Peacekeepers’ Deverick Miller say the rally was needed because families in these communities are hurting.
"Every 10-15 days someone in this small community is being murdered between the ages of 12-25 years of age,” he said. “Enough is enough. It's time to take a stand plain and simple."
Miller adds he and his organization hope to build three community centers in Madison, Lovejoy and Venice to give the youth somewhere to go other than the streets.
"I just hope and pray that we can all unite as one community,” Williams said.
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