Residents of West Palm Beach marched to City Hall on Saturday to demand an end to gun violence in their community. The event, called The Hope Dealers March for Change, was organized by the group Inner City Innovators, which focuses on preventing youth delinquency and gun violence.
Organizer Ricky Aiken led the demonstrators in chants as they gathered at Heart and Soul Park before embarking on their march to City Hall. Several individuals who have been directly impacted by gun violence, including the parents of a one-year-old boy who was shot in the leg during a Memorial Day mass shooting in Hollywood, addressed the crowd.
Barbara Engle, the mother of young Amari, described the tragedy of her son’s injuries, saying that he may never be able to experience a typical childhood. His father Joshua Cleveland added that the incident was “terrifying” and emphasized the importance of elected officials taking action to prevent further violence.
Aiken, who has organized similar events for three years in a row, hopes to inspire young men in his community to choose a path of non-violence. He stresses that without mentorship and guidance, he himself could have easily fallen into a life of violence.
The march was held in conjunction with Wear Orange Weekend, a national event dedicated to supporting gun violence victims. More than 43,000 Americans die each year as a result of gun violence. The demonstration was an effort by the West Palm Beach community to come together and demand change.