By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
BRIDGETON â€“ Participants of the Our Kids Lives Matter rally were not about to let a little rain stop them Friday from their march along Bridgeton’s Cohansey River to the Cumberland County Courthouse with a strong message against gun violence.
With chants like “We have nothing to lose but our chains,” “Who’s Streets? Our Streets” and “Who’s community? Our community,” participants walked down West Broad Street with signs and posters against gun violence.
The message from speaker, activists, marchers, grieving families and everyone in between was clear and resolute â€“ the gun violence must stop and Bridgeton will mortgage away its future. Jennifer Williams-Corsell, who lost her daughter Aaliyah Eubanks, 19, to senseless gun violence in March, said it is the community’s responsibility, not the government’s.
“We can’t rely on the government,” she said to fellow marchers under a gazebo along the Cohansey River. “We have to do this ourselves. It’s got to come from us. They had their time to do for us. Let’s step it up. If we can share that video of someone being shot, let’s share that video of someone giving a hug.”
The Our Kids Lives Matter march comes less than a week after Bridgeton made national news in a mass shooting during a house party at nearby Fairfield Township. Three people died â€“ ages 30, 25 and 19 — and 15 were injured. But the march and rally was planned long before last Saturday’s shooting.
“Losing a child is the worst feeling ever,” Williams-Corsell said in front of the Cumberland County Courthouse. “I’m part of a group now that I’ve never imagined I would be in. I don’t want to be, but I’m trying to protect other mothers from doing this. Losing a child is unbearable.”
Drivers honked their horns in support of the rally. A woman representing the family of Jose Castro, another young person killed in Bridgeton two months ago talked about her anguish.
“Losing a child is a different pain, I can’t even describe it,” she said. “No matter what our children do, they don’t deserve to die. There’s no reason. Everyone has to learn to love each other because this is destroying everybody’s lives. It’s destroyed my life and it’s destroyed my family’s lives.”
Mary Muhammad, the sister of Williams-Corsell who helped organize the rally, guided people to Trinity AME Church on 1107 Bridgeton-Millville Pike on Sunday at 3 p.m. where Rev. Michael Keene agreed to talk with young people about what’s going on in the community.
“You guys have the ear of the community. It’s up to us to decide what to do with it,” Muhammad said. “We only matter to us. Our community has to stand for us. It’s time for the kids to stand for your generation. We’re passing the baton you y’all. Your friends are being kills. It’s time for everyone to stand and take accountability.”
Tracey Wells-Huggins, a local nurse and community activist, told the participants that everyone has to do better to more love into the community.
“Black love is not prevalent [in the community],” said Wells-Huggins, a former Cumberland County commissioner candidate. “Brown love is not prevalent in our community. Black and Brown lives cannot matter when Black and Brown love is not exists. I’ve been saying it for years but I feel like I’ve been crying in the woods and nobody’s hearing me. This is complete insanity. We’ve got to do better.”
She challenged everyone to commit to each other and to the community to help bring an end to the violence that has continued to rock young people in Bridgeton.
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