CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds of people marched in the rain from opposite ends of town to Haddad Riverfront Park Wednesday to call for an end to violence.
The rally started with the vision of Deanna McKinney, mother of slain 18-year-old Tymel McKinney, who was gunned down on the porch of their Sixth Street home April 23.
She called for a rally and coined the rallying cry, “Guns down, hands up to pray.”
Hundreds gathered under the covering at Haddad, away from the rain, to hear McKinney, local pastors and city officials speak.
The groups started at Grace Bible Church on Kanawha Boulevard and First Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Street. The Rev. Matthew Watts of Grace Bible Church spoke about the need for unity.
“She has been initiated into a secret society that nobody would volunteer to join,” Watts said of McKinney. “We’re here to show our love for her and her family.
“We’re here to say that we have a responsibility to work hard, to do more, to fight, to create opportunity. We’re here to tell all of our young people that in your DNA you have world-class character, you have world-class integrity.”
Sunlight started to filter over the riverside park as Deanna McKinney told the crowd she and her son came to Charleston from New York 13 years ago to get away from crime and danger, she said.
“Thinking he could have sports and being able to live nice and comfortably so that he could grow, but that’s not what God said. He said, ‘He’s going to serve a purpose,’” McKinney said.
Charleston detectives said Tymel was shot by gang members who claimed he disrespected their gang…