'It hurts': Fayetteville community activists work to address violence at 'Heal the Ville' rally

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Sunday, October 23, 2022
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Community activists in Fayetteville are working to address the violence through their annual stop the violence rally.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's been a surge of gun violence across the country and here at home. In Fayetteville, community activists James Suber and Demetria Murphy are working to address the violence through their annual stop the violence rally.

The event that provides resources for victims' families and survivors of gun violence comes after police investigated three separate shooting deaths this week.

"We really kinda gotta get a base of where's this violence, and this movement coming from," said Suber.

Suber is a graphic designer and has been behind the designs of "RIP" t-shirts and obituaries of victims of gun violence. He said the violence has snatched the lives of people they know.

"It hurts. So, you know, classmates, friends, you see it and you like, Hey, I know that one. It's going almost numb," Suber continued.

Death hit closer to home once again for the activists. Fayetteville Police are investigating the death of a 15-year-old girl who was found dead from a single gunshot wound inside a home on Maitland Drive on Friday.

The teen was the daughter of Councilwoman Courtney Banks- McLaughin.

Demetria Murphy said the councilwoman would have been at their "Stop the Violence" event.

"To know that Ms.Courtney supports this. She was there last year. She was going to be here this year. So, to know that the day before we were supposed to be having this event, this is the news that she gets," said Murphy. "Our heart is disheartening, you know, to know that Ms. Courtney has been in this fight with us. She's been here, you know, so now she's really thrust into being in this fight."

It's a fight that many families are now left to take on. A 2020 report by Everytown for Gun Safety states an average of 100 children and teens die by guns every year. 57% of which are homicides.

"Is it our music? Is it you know, social media?" Suber asked.

When it comes to the youth, advocates encourage the community to meet them where they are.

"We built this world for them. So, they inherited what we gave them. We gave them this violence," Murphy said. "And until we take accountability for that. And say, hey, we dropped the ball. Where do we pick the ball up and teach our youth how to be that voice we're just going to keep going in a circle."

As the community searches for answers to the violence, families who have lost loved ones are left to grieve.

In Fayetteville, condolences continue to pour in for the family of Councilwoman McLaughlin.