Hundreds walk through Benton Harbor to remember gun violence victims

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 11:02 PM EDT
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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - 300 people walked through the streets of Benton Harbor for the inaugural Walk to Remember Gun Violence Victims.

“I had a dream. The Lord put it on me to do this, I was meant to do this. And I called Pastor McAfee, and I told him what my mission was and what I was trying to accomplish,” said walk organizer Kenisha Whitelow-Perry.

“And what are you trying to accomplish?” asked Maria Catanzarite.

“To stop the gun violence and stop all these killings because people are burying their kids,” added Whitelow-Perry.

Kimberli Ellis joined 70 other victims’ families in the one-mile march along Empire Avenue. Her nephew, Delray Lloyd, was gunned down in August 2021.

“We’re walking for everybody,” said Ellis, “my nephew and every young person, old person, who lost their life to senseless gun violence.”

Pastor Maurice McAfee, of New Bethel Baptist Church, knows the pain these families have suffered.

“Since 2015, I have probably officiated 95 percent of these funerals of gun violence over the last eight years,” said McAfee. “I’ve seen kids as far as 2, 3 years old running to the open [sic] trying to jump in because there’s a loved one sitting in the grave, and they don’t understand, so this is significant for us today.”

Longtime resident Patrick Webster stopped to watch the massive procession.

“I didn’t even know it was going on. I don’t know how I missed it ‘cause I probably would have walked with them, definitely, ‘cause I think the violence really needs to stop in Benton Harbor, and we’re trying to get to these young people, you know. If we can get the young people on board, then I think we can stop some of this violence,” said Webster.

Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis gave the prayer invocation at the walk.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had the loss of life that’s galvanized these people, but this is what happens when we come together in unity and say ‘no more,’” offered McGinnis.

The plan is for the walk to become an annual event.