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'Save our children': Newport News community marches against violence days after shooting at Menchville High

Dozens of students, parents and community members participated in the walk, organized by Newport News Public Schools board member John Eley.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Dozens of people participated in a march against gun violence Saturday days after a deadly shooting in the parking lot of Menchville High School. 

Newport News Public Schools board member John Eley organized the event, which started at Anderson Park in Newport News. 

The crowd included students, parents, community activists, school and city leaders and the Newport News Police Department.  

"Save our children!" several people chanted. "Our children matter!" 

10-year-old Javier Taylor and other children led the march while holding signs that read, "Stop the violence!" and "I just want to grow up." 

“Nobody else needs to die," said Taylor, who hopes deadly shootings come to an end in the area. 

“We don’t want nobody shooting or dying," he said. "We just want a normal life and grow up." 

“You got to know you’re worth something man," said Pernell Nelson, a parent. "You can make the change. You can be somebody."  

Eley said the work against violence begins at home. 

"It starts with parents just being very vital; playing vital roles in their children’s lives," he said. "Seeing what they are doing on social media, seeing what they are doing in the community."  

On Nov. 14, 17-year-old Justice Dunham was shot and killed in the parking lot of Menchville High School after a basketball game.

City leaders, including Newport News City Councilwoman Tina Vick, are calling for unity.

“To call on all citizens to be able to say let’s get together and all of us help find the solutions," said Vick. 

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew also walked and said the demonstration is just the first step in reducing violence.

“I think what everybody is looking for is some action," he said. "What doors are going to open up and allow some of our youth to have activities to do? We need our parents to get involved." 

Eley said he is planning a community teen summit for young men ages 12 to 17 years old, which will focus on gang violence and mental health. The event, which he says has not yet been scheduled, will feature a panel of community leaders,  professional athletes and grass roots organizers. 

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