Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson hosted a Facebook Live Thursday evening and invited mothers who has lost sons to gun violence to talk about their experiences.
“It’s been eight years and it’s not easy to standing up here today,” said Cindy Martin as she hugged a framed photo of her son, Matthew Cox, who was shot and killed in a robbery in 2012. “Every time I see another mother … or a child get killed, it hurts me. Make it easy for us — put the guns down.”
Since her son was killed, Martin has been an activist with the grassroots organization Moms Demand Action. She urged anyone watching the live feed to report anything they know about unsolved murders and not take matters into their own hands.
After a steady increase of shootings in the area, Pensacola officials have been working on solutions to stop gun violence. Last year, Robinson asked the federal government to help form a joint task force. During Thursday’s live video, Mayor Robinson did not take questions from anyone watching from home. He did acknowledge that city and county officials are working to build more economic opportunities in construction and aviation to help people “find a different path.”
But gun violence is still an ongoing issue, as evidenced by Lashunda Dortch, who just lost her 19-year-old son Ke’Avian Sanders last week at the Platinum Club.
“He still had his whole life ahead of him,” she said fighting back tears. “He was only going out to have fun with his friends. I didn’t think when I got that call that night that I wasn’t going to see him no more after he walked out of my house.”
“My baby is gone.”
Rosa Dukes, mother of Broderick Johnson who was shot in 2011, urged people to think about how many lives are affected by a shooting.
“(Broderick) left behind a 5-year-old son,” said Dukes. “My grandson is now asking me questions I don’t have answers to.”
“Think about what you’re doing before you pick up that gun, and put some love in your life.”
Newly elected District 7 Councilman Delarian Wiggins also spoke saying “cease fire, cease fire, cease fire.”
Wiggins said it’s tough not to be “emotional and frustrated” by gun violence. He, too, urged anyone to come forward about unsolved gun violence cases. He also shared that the average age of people in the community involved with gun violence is younger than 25.
“Young men in our community — I’m asking you to cease fire,” he said. “Let’s come up with a better way.”
To report crimes, call the city of Pensacola Police Department at 435-1965. You can also report anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 433-STOP (7867) or fill out an anonymous tip form at pensacolapolice.com.