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Austin-East youth march, demanding peace in the community

The march was organized by 18-year-old Austin-East Magnet High School graduate Ethan Cooke.
Published: Apr. 17, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 17, 2021 at 10:47 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A group of more than 100 adults and children marched from Walter Hardy Park down Martin Luther King Boulevard Saturday afternoon in a demonstration they called “Love is the Answer” demanding peace from their community members.

The march comes after five teens in the Austin-East community have lost their lives to gun violence over the past several months. The group carried signs honoring each of the students killed by gun violence this year.

”If I don’t take action nobody’s going to, if we don’t, nobody’s going to,” said Brooklynn Johnson a friend of Janaria Muhammad. ”We’re all still connected, we’re all the same city, if one of us going through it, we’re all going through it.”

The group of adults and teens banded together, hoping to get the message across to their community and the rest of the city that they are hurt by the violence and want to see change.

”I think it’s extremely important because I feel like as youth, us coming together to do this is crazy powerful if we could just get all the youth to come we could make the change our self because it seems like the older generations aren’t going to do anything it’s us we gotta start with the change now so it’s like here we are we’re gonna show y’all were not gonna stop until we get justice for this,” Johnson said.

The march was organized by 18-year-old Austin-East Magnet High School graduate Ethan Cooke. Following the march, youth members of the community held a showcase in honor of the students killed.

”Seeing my old classmates getting shot and killed had a big impact on me because I had just seen them in class, I was working with them,” said Cooke.

The march stretched several blocks while weaving its way in and out of East Knoxville neighborhoods, hoping to get their message across that the violence has to stop.

”To me, it’s mainly the youth getting killed, so if we got the youth together to stop it as a whole,” said Cooke.

The hope is that this action creates change in the community that’s hurting.

”Just to see other families out here fighting for love, just to see other families fighting, I think that helps to see their loved one is smiling up above and you know there is hope for our community and hope for these families,” said Sheenan Lundy a graduate of Austin-East and now community member.

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