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“We’ve got to save our children:” Group meets to mourn victims of gun violence

Posted at 9:59 PM, Nov 25, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A group of people met on Saturday night for a candlelight vigil to mourn victims of gun violence. It was organized by two groups: Mothers Against Street Killings and Moms on a Mission. Their goal is to raise awareness for what they're calling an epidemic across the country.

On Saturday, photos lined the sidewalk in a small section of Eastern Avenue in Grand Rapids. Each photo represents a victim of gun violence. One photo stands out for mother Jerline Riley.

"Jeffery Owens, my 18-year-old son," said Riley.

Riley's son was murdered at their home on Prince Street in 1994. Since then, she's been an advocate speaking out against gun violence.

"I want them to see what it's like to have to walk down that aisle behind the casket," said Riley.

Riley is just one of a group of people that met outside of Urban Family Ministries to light candles and mourn those who've lost their lives at the hands of people with guns.

"It's a way for people who have lost others to come together and share their stories," said Annie Vandenberg, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action. "I think it's also a good way to find out how to take action."

Studies show there's nearly 100 victims of gun violence every day in the United States and Grand Rapids is not immune.

"It's an issue that affects people everywhere," said Vandenberg.

"It's so hard to have to go through your life without you child," said Riley. "Your child had a future that was cut short and there's nothing you can do about it. I want everybody to know that we've got to save our children."

The group hopes to meet with community members, police and other organizations to come up with solutions to stop the violence.

"Let's save our babies," said Riley. "My son is gone, but I can try to save his son. That's why I"m here."