Ribbons remembering those lost to gun violence

Ribbons remembering those lost to gun violence
Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 1:29 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2016 at 3:41 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Perhaps the greatest mistake a community like Savannah could make in light of the ongoing violent crime problem is to accept it as our new normal.

While Monday night's fatal shooting marks the 36th homicide this year, there is at least one group that refuses to allow complacency to set in.

It's been months since we last told you about the orange ribbons lining a church fence on East Henry Street, one ribbon for each soul taken by violent crime this year.

If you're driving down East Henry at Waters Ave., you can't miss the now three-dozen bright orange ribbons hanging from this wrought iron fence. They are intended to remind us all of our growing homicide rate. No one here at this church ever expected the number of ribbons to grow this fast.

"You don't want to think that it's become a way of life. I think we all do, in a way, because we read it every day and we talk about it. And we hear it on Sunday morning," said Randy Canady, the Church and Facilities administrator for Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church.

More than that, the name of a person who lost their life to gun violence is read aloud, including the day they died and their age.

Canady added, "And then we have a moment of silence, and then we toll our bell tower chime for each death."

This year, the bell has chimed more than two dozen times, and we still have four months left.
Canady says while the ribbons have been up all year, the bright orange piece of cloth representing a life lost still turns heads.

"You know when someone stops and looks at more than two or three that it's something that touches them in some way," said Canady.

And that's the hope, Canady said, that it's not just a memorial, but a wake-up call that might end the recent uptick in gun violence.

Canady said, "The congregation takes a moment and just reflects on how this affects their community. And then, I think then it's almost a call to action of, what can they do to make a difference."

"We added another name on Sunday morning, and twenty-four hours later we already had another. And now we have a second to add, and it's only Tuesday. It's just kind of scary for our city," Canady admitted.

Each time he ties a ribbon to the fence, Canady said it forces him to take a step back and focus on what's important.

"It makes me more appreciative of what I do have, my family and my church." He continued, "Because of our faith, we have to believe that we can make things better and that our coming together and being together as a group and talking about it...and taking actions, whatever those may be...and the end result will happen."

This is now the second year the ribbons have been placed on the church's fence.  At our current pace, Savannah's murder rate and the number of ribbons on this fence will surpass last year's, and then still have to go back more than 25 years to find a more deadly 12 months.

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