SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The city of Springfield has seen a number of deaths this summer at the hands of gun violence, and as calls for change continue, a message from a resident who knows this danger all too well.
Juanita Batchelor is a mother, still searching for answers in connection to her son’s death, and her other loved ones who have been killed at the hands of gun violence. This, as an uptick of deadly gun-related incidents is being seen across the city of Springfield, within the last couple of months.
“Gun Violence leaves you very angry and terrified, these people are still out there killing and shooting, and every summer is just getting worse and worse,” said Batchelor.
So far this year, 203 illegal firearms have been seized by Springfield Police, including nearly a dozen arrests made recently in the High, School, Temple, and Union Street corridor in Springfield, with officers seizing large amounts of firearms, and a suspect connected with a recent murder.
According to one national report, Black Americans are twice as likely to die from gun violence compared to white Americans, and as of last year, gun violence for Black men was at a 28-year high.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has put together a working group of city officials and community leaders to help form a plan of action to combat the recent gun violence. Batchelor, who opened a resource center in Springfield to help others like herself, wants to expand services around the clock for people in crisis.
Batchelor adding, “A 24-hour safe haven for families of gun violence, to have people come into these neighborhoods for conflict resolution, but we are one organization. It can’t only take one of us, it will take a lot of us to get this done.”
Batchelor tells 22News that healthier communities need to be created to get to the source of gun violence, whether that’s addressing the housing crisis, or making after school programs more accessible to families.