By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor
Sisters 4 Unity – a group of mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence – brought together several hundred concerned citizens, elected officials, religious leaders, former mayors and youth participants to hold a march protesting gun violence on Saturday, August26.
The march started at Smith Park, led by a Toledo Fire and Rescue Department vehicle, and arrived back in the Park in order to present participants the opportunity to hear the mothers, the former mayors (Donna Owens, Carty Finkbeiner, Mike Bell, Paula Hicks-Hudson) and a few others comment on the city’s struggle to bring gun violence under control.
“The work these mothers have done to unite us, to support us, to support other mothers who have lost their children to gun violence cannot be overstated,” said Malcolm Cunningham, director of the Mayor’s Office on Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. “They are working to ensure these sorts of things never happen again.”
“These mothers are the heartbeat of our community,” said Toledo City Councilman Nick Komives noting that he admires “the drive they have to make sure nobody else feels the way they do.”
The Sister 4 Unity have joined forces over the past seven to eight months with Toledo’s four former mayors in an effort to focus the community’s attention on gun violence and to address ways to bring an end to the violence and homicides that have increased so dramatically since the pandemic stated in 2020 – much as in the rest of the country.
The Sisters 4 Unity – Aviance Hill, Lashawnda Kinnebrew, Abena Rowland – began working with the Coalition for Peaceful Toledo Neighborhoods (an organization comprised of the four former mayors and various religious leaders) in January of this year.
“How proud I am of each and every one of you here today,” said former mayor Owens. “We have to use our voice and these ladies have used their voices.”
“You have the power,” Ohio senator Hicks-Hudson told the mothers’ group. “This journey is just the beginning. Think about what we can do with that power. This is love in action due to these mothers … do not be weary … the prize is we are going to have peace. Do not stop.”
“These women are unbelievable,” said former mayor Bell as he spoke of the months he and the other mayors have worked with and connected with the Sisters 4 Unity. He also noted that their sacrifices would be of enormous benefit to the rest of the community. “We don’t want to have more people joining this sorority.”
In an impressive display of comity and goodwill, current Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, with whom the former mayors have expressed disagreement on how to best handle the uptick in violence over the past couple of years, was also present for Saturday’s march.