Enough is enough.
That was the message delivered loud and clear by about 150 people who braved the soggy weather in North Preston yesterday afternoon to protest against a recent surge in gun violence in their community.
The crowd grew slowly as people exited St. Thomas Baptist Church and marched together down Simmons Road, holding signs that read “peace is best” and singing hymns as they walked.
“I want to have peace in our community,” said 11-year-old Antifa McDonald, who came to the event with her family. “I want the violence to stop.”
On Oct. 9, Anifa and her Grade 6 classmates at Nelson Whynder Elementary School were forced to stay indoors over lunch after shots were fired only a few hundred metres from their building.
It was to be the first in a slew of incidents involving gunfire in the area. A few days later, several bullet fragments ended up in a nearby home after a gunfight broke out on the street. Police say several people inside narrowly escaped injury.
“There are bad things wherever you go, but unfortunately it’s been happening here,” said Maureen Smith, a mother of four and active volunteer in the North Preston area. “One of our downfalls is lack of education in our community for young people. Because they don’t have the jobs and the money that they need, they sometimes resort to other things that can get them into trouble.”
Along with Mayor Peter Kelly and several regional councillors, about 20 members of the RCMP and the Halifax Regional Police force also showed up for the event. Coun. David Hendsbee (Preston-Lawrencetown-Chezzetcook) said he was pleased with the turnout, but feels more needs to be done to reach young people in the community.
“There have to be alternative programs for them,” he said. “They can’t get all their diversion from things like video games. They need recreation programs or community organizations.”