ST. LOUIS –Months before the shooting in Parkland, Florida, a march against gun violence was already being organized in North St. Louis on the same day (March 24). While the world watched in horror as 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for people in some areas it is an epidemic they face all too often.
"Mass shootings occur every day in the urban core," said James Clark with Better Family Life and an organizer of Saturday's MOVE March and Rally. "We have been too silent, and America has been too silent. So, this is a day of reckoning where we have to look at each other and say, 'We cannot pass the responsibility on to a future generation. We must address it right now.'"
When the march was planned in downtown St. Louis to mirror the marches happening across the nation, Clark and his supporters thought it was important to keep their march right where the violence is happening.
"It starts here. It starts at ground zero," said Najee Jackson, student at Lindenwood University and senior member of the school's football team. He was joined by his fellow teammates, all wearing their jerseys to the march. "We're going to go out here, help and support, and show love to this community."
Better Family Life has been battling gun violence in the St. Louis area for more than 20 years.
Clark said he is encouraged to see the national movement against gun violence gaining momentum especially among the younger generation.
While some are demanding gun control, pointing fingers and placing blame, Clark said Better Family Life is focused on problem solving, not politics.
Activists, clergy, students and concerned citizens met at the corner of Page Boulevard and Euclid Avenue Saturday morning, and marched west on Page to the Better Family Life Cultural Center. Marchers carried photos, signs and banners for loved ones lost to gun violence.
Event organizers stress it is up to everyone in the community to do their part to end gun violence because it is a problem that impacts everyone.
"St. Louis has got to begin to come together," Clark said. "From Lake St. Louis to East St. Louis, we've got to fight this crisis, not just one day, but every day."