Community prays to end violence

JACKSON, Tenn. — Concerned West Tennesseans came together Saturday to hold a prayer rally to stop violence.

“A lot of people say prayer doesn’t change things, but I believe in God, and I think you have to continue praying about what you’re trying to do,” said Jackson City Councilman Johnny Dodd.

They prayed for an end to what community members call senseless violence.

“Half of the stuff is stupid anyway; they can’t even tell you why they shoot. Somebody said this, or did this. A lot of it doesn’t even make sense,” said James Rivers’ mother, Tanya Rivers.

“If you kill someone in Jackson, you have to know them. It’s hard not to since it’s such a small city,” said Anthony Cuyler, founder of Hugs and Hustle.

“We want to continue working together to see what we can do to get our crime problem under control,” Dodd said.

Community members also prayed for the future of their children and lost loved ones.

Ernestine Boone, who lost her son 13 years ago, spoke about him at the rally.

“Walter was a sweet person. If you’re mad, he won’t let you just go to bed mad and stay mad. He’ll make you laugh and make one of those faces just to make you laugh,” Boone said.

To this day, the family has many unanswered questions.

“They never found out who killed my son. It’s someone I know, but they’re just not talking. I would give anything to just know who killed him, and why,” Boone said.

She plans to keep praying for the families who have lost children to violence.

“People that haven’t lost anyone, they never know how it feels. But when you lose someone, your heart is empty, and you know how they feel,” Boone said.

Organizers say that change in the community starts with the people.

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