'You have to acknowledge that something is wrong': Event aims to stop gun violence with conversation

Roanoke Remembers happening Sunday at William Fleming HS

By Taj Simmons - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - The Roanoke Gun Violence Task Force hopes the stories of people shattered by gun violence will encourage the community to be peaceful.

"Most preachers don't like doing funerals, but you hate doing a funeral when it's somebody that left way too soon," said task force member the Rev. Kevin McNeil of Bethany Christian Church.

Their Roanoke Remembers event Sunday at William Fleming High School will feature stories, songs, and on-site counseling for people still trying to handle trauma. McNeil says his church secretary, whose son died in a shooting, will be among the people opening up about the pain of gun violence.

"You have to acknowledge that something is wrong,"  McNeil said. "The hurt, the pain, the hole that they have is an acknowledgement that there's something that happened that should not have happened."

Roanoke Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb hopes Roanoke Remembers will give residents a chance to be honest and open about the realities of violence in the city.

"For us to do this together as a city is poignant, important and helpful in the long run," Cobb said.

McNeil hopes change comes soon because his teenage sons are already becoming worried about being shot.

"When we think of violence, we often think of it as, 'Those people over there,'" McNeil said. "We have to sit back and be honest and realize that it's all of us. I wish I could say, 'Grab a Bible, read some scripture,' but faith can not do it by itself."

Roanoke Remembers starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday, but doors open at 4 p.m. 10 News will have a crew at the event.

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