Anti-gun violence advocates fill museum steps to call for policy change

Rally brought people of all ages together to speak out on those lost to gun violence.

June 11, 2018 - 5:11 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Last year, more than 300 people were murdered in Philadelphia, leaving just as many families heartbroken and searching for answers.  

On Monday, scores of those victims' families and friends filled the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps with pictures and signs, calling for policy and cultural changes.  

Grieving parents held pictures of their dead children during the Fill the Steps Against Gun Violence rally.

"My son was murdered on Jan. 24, 2015," said one father.

"My 17-year-old daughter was shot on Nov. 12, 2017," said a mother.

"My son Eric Brown was murdered on April 10, 2018," added another.

"We shouldn't be burying our babies," said Shonda, whose 17-year-old daughter Erika was gunned down in November. "My baby just graduated on Friday and I had to accept her diploma. It shouldn't have been me walking across the stage — that should have been her."

City high school students sang with Parkway Center City High School teacher Maureen Boland by their side, encouraging them to speak out.

"It's hard to figure out the best way to respond to the needs of kids who have been through so much trauma," she said emotionally, "but I am very privileged because my students share their lives with me and affect my heart and inspire me."

Other students read poetry about losing friends or hearing gunshots and police outside their bedroom windows each night.

"Stories that kids share with you, teachers are affected by those stories," she added, "but I am glad it's coming out of the classroom and people are getting to hear this, too."

Tiffany's son Eric was shot and killed in West Chester two months ago over a basketball game.

"We got to get these people out, get them voted, educate them on these gun laws," she emphasized.

The mother said she was quickly swept into the gun reform movement — and is now demanding policy changes.

"From the high school shootings to things that happened to my son," she added. "We can't save everyone, but we can try."