Charleston rally remembers victims of gun violence, searches for answers

VIDEO: Group expected to rally for peace in downtown Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - An anti-gun violence rally was held in Marion Square in downtown Charleston Monday afternoon.

The event was held just a block away from Mother Emanuel AME church where nine people were shot dead last June.

Group leaders say the peace and justice rally would focus on gun violence this year, because of the gun-related tragedies the Lowcountry experienced in 2015.

Family members and survivors of several high profile shootings were invited and showed up.

Dozens of people turned out to hear the names of those killed by gun violence, prayers for the survivors, and possible solutions to reduce gun violence.

Politicians called on the crowd to vote out lawmakers who won't support stronger gun laws.

Director pastor Thomas Dixon told the audience if you're not affected by this, referring to the people affected by gun violence, then you have no heart.

State. Rep. Wendell Gilliard was present at the event and told the crowd gun violence can be stopped tomorrow "if we want it to."

Mayor-elect John Tecklenburg told people in the audience that,"You don't need an AK-47 to go deer hunting."

"It seems like the more we progress as a nation, it seems the more divided we are," Dixon said. "One of the biggest division lies along the lines of gun violence and gun legislation."

Monday's event was divided into two 1-hour parts. The first section was a memorial celebration of life. While the second hour was devoted to addressing what they call common sense solutions that will reduce the bloodshed and lives lost due to gun violence. This is when the survivors of gun violence and local churches are invited to come forward and stand together.

At this point, the names of those who have lost their lives to gun violence were read aloud.

After reading the names, a prayer was held over gun violence survivors, and for the end of gun violence in the Lowcountry.

Dixon says he'll be satisfied if one individual truly hears the group's message today. "I'd be happy if just one person came and that one person was the one person that will turn this whole thing around," he said. "I don't need thousands. I just need that one to do get up and do what they're supposed to do."

The rally for peace and justice will take place at Marion Square from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Organizers say the family of victims from the Emanuel AME Church shooting, and six-year-old Tyreik Gadsden have been invited.

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