SUITLAND, Md. (DC News Now) — On Saturday grieving mothers, and dozens of others, came together at Creative Suitland Arts Center in Prince George’s County to discuss possible solutions to gun violence.
Several mothers like Tiffani Evans, Ja’Ka McKnight, Crystal McNeal, and more sat on a panel to share their stories to begin an honest conversation on gun violence.
“Just understand how we feel as mothers, that this isn’t an easy task but I’m still learning to have some type of purpose in the midst of our pain,” said Evans.
“The motivation is my kids and my son. I have to keep his name alive and other mothers’ as well. Other mothers are out here grieving, who else is gonna be there for them,” said McKnight.
Aside from sharing their healing journeys and the impact losing their children has had on their lives, accountability on every level was a significant topic.
McKnight’s 13-year-old son King Douglas was shot and killed by a 12-year-old last year in April. He was sentenced to supervised probation in August.
“Holding the leaders accountable, holding the murders, these people that’s pulling the trigger accountable. Holding these parents accountable, because it’s their children that are out here on the streets,” said McKnight. “In Prince George’s County, if you’re under 14, you get charged as a juvenile. Well if a juvenile is pulling a trigger and he or she knows what he’s doing well they should be held accountable. So we need to go down to the legislator’s office and change this law so that they can be held accountable,” she continued.
Many community leaders also say change must start at home.
“We need to learn how to love more these kids start loving on them more and start trying to teach them and not turn off back because they’re screaming for help right now,” said Prince Hamn, CEO, and Founder of local non-profit Making A Difference (M.A.D.)
Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz was in attendance but declined our request for comment.
Organizers say Saturday’s conversation is just the beginning of uniting the community and putting the guns down.
“Let’s be reactive, let’s be proactive. Let’s really get to the bottom of this but we need your help. Like Prince Hamn said there’s strength in numbers,” said Chris Thomas, Chief of Staff for M.A.D.