GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids has seen 10 shootings in one week. Six people in total have been injured.
Community members say these recent events won't keep them down. A group of community leaders and business owners held Wealthy Street's first-annual Family and Friends BBQ at Joe Taylor Park on Saturday in hopes of showing community pride and preventing violence.
The latest shooting took place at that park, and one person was shot in the back. On Friday, city leaders held a press conference there, in part, to reclaim the park for the community.
The free BBQ ran from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday and featured complimentary food, drinks, games and music. Organizers estimated about 200 in attendance throughout the day.
"We're gonna get down there and we're gonna talk to these brothers, because we're tired of it. You know what I mean? It's senseless violence.There's too many mothers crying," said William Gresham, the event organizer.
Gresham explained he had been planning the barbecue since 2018. While he didn't anticipate the event lining up with the recent shootings, it was an opportunity to create something good out of a tragic series of gunfire.
"It’s tragic, but everything happens for a reason. It just doesn’t happen by coincidence that things have been happening and we’re able at this point in our lives, being able to come back and give back," he said.
Gresham plans on holding the event for years to come and hopes it can lead to calm discussions over pressing issues in the community.
"It’s not just people walking up and trying to rob people. There’s conflict resolution that’s needed... They go from zero to 60 real fast and there needs to be a calming point where cooler heads can prevail," he said.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.