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Savannah mothers react to mass shooting on Avery Street

Published: Jun. 14, 2021 at 4:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This weekend’s mass shooting on Avery Street was sad and frustrating for so many in Savannah, but no one knows the pain quite like the Mothers of Murdered Sons. For them, it was proof that their work is far from over.

“I started immediately crying, why, why, why is this going on? Why are we being attacked in our city?” asked Barbara O’Neal Horsey.

“I miss my son, and just to think we’re still going through the same crap,” said Brenda Johnson-Curtis.

It’s a story they know too well. A son taken too soon. One week from Monday will mark 10 years since O’Neal Horsey’s son Alan O’Neal, nicknamed “Poody,” was killed just two streets from their home.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that he’ll never walk back in this house and to get killed in a neighborhood that he loved, that he was raised up in, it’s just heartbreaking, devastating,” she said.

But O’Neal Horsey has worked to combat gun violence with other mothers of murdered sons. Moms like Johnson-Curtis, whose son Ricardo Morris was killed almost six years ago, and the case remains unsolved. She’s angry these situations continue to happen is Savannah and is begging people to speak up.

“How we know that the person that killed my son is not the person that is still killing other people? Because you haven’t caught them. You don’t want to say anything, but when you say something you’re saving a community, you’re saving a parent, you’re saving a child. Say something when you see this senseless gun violence going on, please,” said Johnson-Curtis.

Both moms are fighting to end gun violence, working alongside the police and other teens. They say we need to lead with love and support one another.

“It takes a village. Everyone got to be apart of just because you don’t have a child, don’t mean you can’t get involved. You have to get involved. It takes the whole city of Savannah,” said O’Neal Horsey.

Despite their best efforts and a new campaign with Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, gun violence remains an issue. They say they won’t be discouraged, but are emboldened for the sake of their sons.

“I’m not going to give a sense of hopelessness. I don’t believe in that. We are going to fight harder. We’re going to do a little more. Whatever it takes for no other mother to deal with the pain I have to deal with,” said Johnson-Curtis.

Moms Demand Action

Moms Demand Action is a group that fights for public safety measures that can protect people from the kind of gun violence we saw in this area Friday night.

A local Moms Demand Action coordinator said she doesn’t believe police will be able to arrest their way out of the problem, that it’s going to take action at every single level. That means doing things like asking state and federal legislators doing who represent our area to address the issue.

“I think that the public consciousness is getting raised every day with every one of these incidents. We just need to move the step from public consciousness into action, because it’s going to take action. There’s another piece of this to look at, which is, there are community-based groups working. They’re using evidence-based methods to interrupt violence. They need our support,” said Anne Allen Westbrook, Moms Demand Action.

She pointed out groups like the Urban Mentoring Academy, Savannah Youth City, Dominic’s World and the LB4 and After Foundation are those that the community can rally around and support to help curb gun violence before it becomes an issue.

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