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A group of fewer than 30 people marched through the Bay neighborhood near Burr and Cambridge streets on Sunday afternoon to protest gun violence.

The Greater Springfield Campaign for Nonviolence joined parishioners at Shiloh Freewill Baptist Church in a silent walk from the church on Burr Street to nearby Hennessey Park for a ceremony remembering those killed by gunfire this year.

One of them, Marquis Newson, died on February 5. His mother, Lucey Newson, told walkers that he was a good man who had been shot five times, once in the head.

“My world was shattered,” she said. “He was the glue that held our family together.”

Marquis Newson was one of ten murder victims this year and one in a long line of gunshot victims.

“He was the father of two children, a boy and a girl,” his mother said. “He made sure the children went to school.”

Reverend Sandra Alexander, pastor of Shiloh Freewill, said she is accompanying the event organizers because her neighborhood is affected.

“In fact, there was a shooting on Dunmoreland Street yesterday,” she said, “and there was a shooting down near the park last month. There’s too much violence going on there and we need to come together on this issue. We need to come together, sit at the table and get this resolved.”

When asked who she thought should sit at this table, Alexander answered bluntly.

“The mayor’s office, the preachers, the city councillors and the youth,” she said. “We need the youth to come to the table to say what they think. What can be done? We have very talented young people in this city, but they are wasting their lives.”

Alexander said politicians must approach this task with honesty.

“We need people at this table, not with an agenda, but with a goal: to put an end to the killing.”

In Hennessey Park, walkers gathered in a circle to call out the names of those killed this year and those police officers who died in the line of duty – thirteen names in total.

But Alexander’s strongest words came when she spoke about the people who live in the neighborhood. As she looked around at the group of walkers, who were mostly older and white, she said she was ashamed that the people who live in the neighborhood were not there with them.

“We can’t even get our people to make the march if it’s our children who are being killed,” she said. “You know the guns are in your house. You know it.”

On June 30, 2024, walkers stopped in Hennessey Park to call out the names of those who died this year due to gun violence, as well as the names of three Springfield police officers killed in the line of duty. (Dave Canton / The Republican)

Michael Moran drove from Palmer to attend the march. He said others came from Easthampton.

“It’s really part of our effort to do as much as we can to help reduce the level of violence in the city,” he said. “It affects the quality of life throughout the city.”

Jane Virgilio, president of the Greater Springfield Campaign for Nonviolence, led the march through the neighborhood. She said the group conducts similar marches through other neighborhoods throughout the year to raise awareness of the violence.

“We have developed a relationship with Pastor Sandra, so we come here every year to do the walk with her,” Virgilio said. “We host other walks in our neighborhoods throughout the year.”

Irene Starks watched walkers come to the park, holding a sign for her son, Camry. He died in 2021 at the age of 26.

“He had two daughters, one he knew and the other he didn’t. She was born after he died. Her name is Cameron,” Starks said.

She also spoke out bluntly about the involvement of those who bear the brunt of street violence.

“Nobody from this area was out there protesting. Anyone can complain. So why weren’t you there and involved?” Starks asked rhetorically. “How can you turn your back on that? I know you can’t save the world, but I’m just doing my best to save someone else’s son from going through what we went through.”