NORFOLK -- Dozens of people gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza Saturday for a peace rally.

Participants hoped to inspire unity in the face of a recent series of shooting in Norfolk.

'The violence has to stop,' said Demonte Harris, a member of The New Generation Community Marching Band.

Harris and Antonio Stephenson lost their brother to a violent crime three years ago.

'It was hard, like, up every night crying, trying to think, calling his phone, knowing that he's not coming back,' recalled Harris. 'I mean it hurts to this day.'

'The kids, I see a lot of kids dying. I don't like that, man,' Stephenson shared. 'We can recruit to keep people from doing bad things and do good things. That's what we're out here for.'

The local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) decided it would hold the event after 15 people were shot in the city during the course of a single weekend.

'It is a sense of urgency that we come together, that we show love and we show compassion, explained Andrew Shannon with the SCLC. 'So, with the backdrop of the Doctor Martin Luther King Monument, and right here in the Martin Luther King Plaza, we come together with the message of peace and non-violence.'

'I feel like if we come together as a whole, race shouldn't matter,' Harris stated. 'We come together as a whole, we can get this done.'

Norfolk has seen an increase in its homicide rate, with 24 on the books so far this year.
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