WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Winston-Salem community activists and groups have joined others to stress that the gun violence that has plagued the city will only be solved if everyone steps in to help.
On Tuesday, leaders of Hope Dealers Outreach, Mom’s Demand Action, and families of gun violence victims held a news conference in Winston-Salem.
Winston-Salem has seen 16 homicides related to gun violence as of June 22, which is compared to 10 in 2020, a year that experienced 23 deaths from gun violence.
Frankie Gist, a longstanding equality and peace activist with Hope Dealers Outreach, spent the past few years leading protests, community events, and speaking with law enforcement on ways to make positive change.
On Tuesday, he said, emotionally, that he felt like none of it had worked. “Every time I turn around the food giveaways, they ain’t working. The protesting is not working. Every time I turn around another mother is calling me, crying.”
Gist spends much of his time “in the trenches” as he calls it, mentoring children and individuals who are living in poverty and are stuck in neighborhoods that experience regular gun violence.
When asked as to why he believes these shootings happened, he explained that it comes down to envy of another’s materials or social status.
“Poverty, and the lack of funding. If I continue to live in a place where all around me is stuck — my mom is struggling, she’s doing the best she can to make ends meet. Now I have to go to the streets to make some money; now I’m making money, now there’s another person who’s in my neighborhood who’s, or on a different side of town, I don’t like how much more money you’ve got them me. Now I’ve got to go to your side of town and do a drive-by. I don’t care if your son’s out there, I don’t care if you’ve got kids out there. I am coming out there to prove a point to you that I am jealous.”
In order to curb this violence, the activists, and victims of violence, have called on the city to create more stable jobs that would lead to careers for those who live in poverty, and for affordable after schools programs for children.
“We have to have free programs that will cater to them. The issue is there is only a few of us working. It is going to take all of us to build,” Gists said.