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caption: People stand in the rain and link arms at an event for National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Skyway, Washington on June 3, 2022.
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People stand in the rain and link arms at an event for National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Skyway, Washington on June 3, 2022.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

'We've got to do it together.' Skyway residents unite against gun violence

In a grocery store parking lot in Skyway, dozens linked arms to show unity and in one voice chanted, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

Marty Jackson led the chant.

She’s with Boys & Girls Clubs of King County and the Seattle Community Safety Initiative, a coalition of grassroots groups who recently started working together to prevent violence.

Together with the King County Regional Peacekeepers Collective – another violence prevention coalition – they gave away free gun lockboxes and trigger locks Friday and shared messages of unity.

Organizers wanted to get ahead of summer, when more shootings typically happen, Jackson said.

“This is a proactive way to make the community aware, but also to get the community to buy in to what we’re doing because we need you, we’ve got to do it together,” Jackson said.

In Seattle and South King County those coalitions started working together in the past few years to prevent gun violence from every angle they can: from education and employment to showing up in person and literally keeping the peace at locations known for shootings.

“What we are seeing more of is people from the community who are getting trained up in this work,” Jackson said, “Leaders, activists who are leading the charge.”

At the event, former Skyway resident Ayanna Brown took the mic.

She wanted event attendees to realize how long lasting the pain caused by gun violence can be.

On April 29, 2010, Brown's 12-year-old son, Alajawan, was coming home from buying football cleats with money earned from mowing lawns.

Nearby, gang members from the Bloods and the Crips were shooting it out.

Her son happened to be wearing blue, associated with the Crips.

“He wasn’t a part of a gang, he was just minding his own business,” Ayanna Brown said.

Alajawan Brown was shot in the back.

Ayanna Brown said she was in denial for years.

“For two years I paid T-Mobile for his phone," she said. "I couldn’t turn his phone off, because I’m waiting for my baby to come back.”

Alicia Neal was in the audience listening. Other people got up and talked about young relatives shot and killed.

Neal said she was touched.

“I don’t want that to be my story,” she said.

She picked up a lockbox to give to her daughter’s father.

“We’ve talked about it, and he said he would get one, but it hasn’t happened,” she said. But now, she’s sure he’ll use it.

“Happy Father’s Day," Neal said. "You now have no excuse.”