SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Gun violence continues to be an issue across the United States and right here in the Pioneer Valley. On Wednesday, Springfield residents gathered on the steps of City Hall for the Release the Peace protest.

This protest, hosted by Neighbor to Neighbor, was part of an effort to stop the gun violence in Springfield. There have been an uptick in shootings in the Springfield community and residents are tired of losing their loved ones to gun violence.

This year, Springfield police has taken more than 200 guns off the streets and collected more than 20 ghost guns.

Bennita Watford with Neighbor to Neighbor says gun violence is a huge issue in the city and that more needs to be done to get these guns off the streets that a lot of young people are getting a hold of. She says it starts with guiding the youth in the right direction, giving them something to do after school.

“They need something to do, you cant have them do something when they make programs where low income families can’t afford it so there needs to be some community activities where low income family-single parent families can afford to pay for their children to go somewhere,” said Watford.

Watford told 22News the community needs to come together to create a safe space for the youth and she says the youth needs more to do so that they can stay off the streets. She added that there should even be free programs for children to go to, it would help to stop the violence before it takes place.

Local News

Kiara Smith is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since March 2023. Follow Kiara on X @KiaraBSmith1 and view her bio to see more of her work.