Voices of the Survivors: Lending a voice to those killed by gun violence

For several survivors, it's been more than a decade since they've seen their loved ones murdered, killed because of gun violence. While the pain is still there, they're letting their voices be heard and hoping their pain can bring about change. Dennis Tin

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Behind every picture and every name read aloud is a voice that can speak no more. They are fathers, sons, family and friends all killed by gun violence.


"It's a cruel world. We lose people," Stevonte Wood, one of the survivors, said. "All of us here today, our tragedies are immeasurable."


Immeasurable, but the people gathered at the Chestnut Street YMCA Sunday afternoon are doing their best to try and quantify their experiences. The survivors of gun violence, both those who have been victims and those who have lost loved ones to the epidemic, are lending their voices to those who can no longer speak. They are sharing their experiences as part of a project organized by The Pegasus Institute, Voices of the Survivors, which is aimed at helping others impacted by gun violence.


"It's about making sure that people feel heard and are then able to move on and find a better sense of healing," Ashlea Christiansen, the state director for Marsy's Law for Kentucky, a group lobbying for legislative change when it comes to helping survivors navigate the judicial process, said.


"When I look out in Louisville and it doesn't seem better, I felt like it had to change," Mike Harris Jr., a survivor, said. "It had to change in some type of way."


For Harris, who lost his father 10 years earlier to gun violence, his story is about his journey to find forgiveness, one that took his seven years.

 


"It's never too late to forgive because I know that I am going to keep getting stronger each and every day," he said. "And when I look at my father and down at that tombstone, I know that I'm making him happy every single day."


For Stevonte Wood, the memories of seeing his mother and brother shot and killed still haunt him eight years later.

 

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"I couldn't get my mom's blood out of my fingernails for three days," he said. "I looked and there was my brother right there shot five times."


But his journey is still continuing as he works towards becoming a law enforcement officer, hoping to prevent other families from living the nightmare that had become his reality.


"I don't think God made me just to go through that," he said. "I don't think He made me to lose a mother and brother just to give up on life. I'm sorry. I'm not going to do that and I'm not going to let you all do that."

© 2018 WHAS-TV


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