MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Saturday, several organizations, along with city and county government leaders, teamed up to host the Unity Walk Against Gun Violence.
The walk comes as the city experiences a record year of homicides.
The Memphis Police Department has recorded more than 260 homicides this year. That’s well above the previous record of 228 homicides in 2016.
At least 29 victims have been children, according to MPD.
Law enforcement and government officials have offered several reasons why homicides have spiked in 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless of what’s causing it, participants of the unity walk, said it was important to speak out against the violence.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich called the rise in gun violence a public health crisis.
“Never has gun violence taken such a toll on our citizens, and never have so many concerned leaders from so many different organizations felt compelled to do something more than just talk,” Weirich said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said compared to last year, the murder rate is up 63 percent; aggravated assaults are up 27 percent, and the number of incidents involving guns is up 19 percent. Overall, 65 percent of all incidents involve guns.
Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said the county is in its early stages of working with Cure Violence, a national anti-violence organization.
Haushalter said the community will hear more about that next year.