Gulfport’s Gaston Point community takes stand against violence

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:34 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Residents of the Gaston Point community gathered on Tuesday demanding change after a violent 2021.

Including a mass shooting on New Year’s Eve that left four people dead, Gulfport finished the year with 16 homicides.

With many seats of the Gaston Point Community Center filled and community officials listening, residents expressed their concerns and offered insights into the causes of violence.

“We won’t even have any leaders of tomorrow if all this violence continues,” said Gulfport resident Brenda Matthews.

A tribute was placed in the back of the room remembering young victims of gun violence through the years from Gulfport, including the victims of the latest shootings. Matthews said parents need to take action now to prevent more loss of life.

“The parents should be here and they should find out what you have in their house that their children shouldn’t have in the house,” Matthews said. “They (parents) are the first teachers of their children.”

The community leaders speaking to the crowd emphasized every citizen, not just the police have a role in keeping their neighborhoods safe.

“As snitchy as it may sound, we may save some lives by saying hey these kids are running around with guns,” said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

That’s a message Police Chief Chris Ryle said is catching on. He thanked residents of Gaston Point for tips leading to the arrests of four suspects for their alleged connections to the New Year’s shooting.

“They (residents) said enough is enough. With their support, we have been able to make progress into this case and with their continued support we’ll continue to make progress,” Ryle said. “I look at this as an opportunity, an opportunity for us to come together as a community and it’s not just about what we as a police department can do, but what we as a community can do to prevent these tragedies in the future.”

The “Saving our Community” meeting was organized by Gulfport Councilman Truck Casey and the Gulfport NAACP.

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