GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Community leaders in Goldsboro held a rally to protest gun violence on Sunday in honor of the victims of the recent pool party shooting that killed 15-year-old Joyonna Pearsall and injured five others.
The rally, which was organized by Operation Unite Goldsboro, gave kids and adults alike the chance to address the community and pitch new solutions to the growing issue.
It also led many in attendance to push for those with information on the April 12th shooting to come forward.
"It's easy to speak about the victim. it's easy to get out here and say long live Joyonna," said Goldsboro native Richard Taylor. "But it should be just as easy to say 'nah, he did it. he did it.'"
Joyonna's mother, Keonda Jackson Pearsall, spoke at the rally for the first time since the shooting -- pleading with the community for their help.
"I want y'all to wake up, stand up and listen up, and we will get justice for my baby, one way or the other," she said.
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Operation Unite Goldsboro's founder, Mark Colebrook, says kids in the community have come to him with their concerns.
"We have kids that I've talked to that are afraid to have graduation parties," Colebrook said. "We have graduation coming up. We have kids that are afraid to go to the prom. Things that were rites of passage for us, we have kids that are afraid."
Colebrook and former state representative Raymond Smith are working to establish a new, state-funded program that would provide new recreational opportunities for at-risk youth. The idea, called the Safe Place for Teens Program, would allow local organizations to apply for funding, then host and chaperone groups of teens for various events.
"There is no reason why our teenagers in this community should not feel safe in congregating and having a good time," said Smith.
Colebrook and Smith said they've already received support for the idea from local lawmakers, city and county officials.