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Neighbourhood activists call for action on gun violence

A desperate plea from community activists Saturday, calling out all levels of government to help stop the gun violence in the city.

Many turned out on Queen West where two aspiring hip-hop artists were gunned down last weekend.

“Put down the gun! Stop killing innocent people. Stop killing our young men. Stop it!” said Melissa Campbell, who has been personally touched by the sudden spike of gun related violence. Her brother Shaquille Wallace was shot and killed in January.

“These people are just coming out here and killing people, ruining people’s family and destroying people’s life,” said Campbell. “When you take away that life you take away everyone’s life.”

But while everyone agrees a solution needs to be found, there’s disagreement on what should be done. One veteran Toronto police officer fired off a letter to mayor John Tory this week accusing the mayor of creating the problem when he cancelled the controversial TAVIS program.

“You know what I think (police union boss) Mr. McCormack and his agents that send these letters are doing? They are doing a great disservice to their fellow police officers because their fellow police officers are working so hard and they’re doing it with my full support,” said Tory.

Back in the neighbourhoods most affected by the violence, even activists have different opinions.

“TAVIS’ existence does not stop the violence,” said community advocate Knia Singh. “TAVIS’ existence, unfortunately, has created a wedge in the community because of how they treated the community”

“We need to bring some sort of security back into the neighbourhood,” counters Carol Johnson-Austin of Young Lives Matters Ministries.

Community activists say Saturday’s event isn’t just a one-off and they plan to hold more rallies and circulate more petitions until they feel like their voices are heard.

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