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Harrisburg community calls for end to gun violence

From t-shirt memorials to social media groups, people in Harrisburg are bringing awareness to increasing gun violence in the city.
Credit: WPMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Dozens of tee shirts cover the front lawn of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at the corner of 19th and Market streets in Harrisburg.

“Each one represents a person who was killed by gun violence in Harrisburg,” Rev. Gerald Rhodes with the nonprofit Heeding God's Call to End Gun Violence said.

Each shirt bares the name and age of a victim, as well as the date they were killed.

“When you see this or drive past, you’re shocked at just how many there have been," Rhodes said. "These are individuals, not just numbers, and the t-shirts help bring that home."

Two of the shirts represent grandsons Patricia Reitzi lost to gun violence – one in 2019 and another in 2021. She has since started the Facebook Group “Put Down the Guns” to help bring together those who feel hopeless.

“Fathers are burying sons, sons are burying fathers," Reitzi said. "Mothers and grandparents and siblings are devastated and broken inside to the point where they don't even want to get involved because they're broken."

Reitzi says her great-grandsons, who will grow up not knowing their father, are the reason she wants to bring a louder voice to the issue.

"Because of them two, I feel like I needed to reach out not only to fight for him, but to fight for his family, along with all the rest of these victims.”

Reitzi joined members from across the Harrisburg faith community in calling an end to the violence.

"Collectively we suffer from this," Rev. Dr. Amy Welin from the Episcopal Cathedral at St. Stephen said. "Collectively, we can do something about this.”

"In order to put that flame out with regards to gun violence, it takes everybody," Kingdom Embassy Pastor Eric Jackson said.

Both Reitzi and Rhodes say more attention to the issue is followed by change.

"We all need to pull together and let our legislators know that they got to get a grip on gun control," Reitzi said.

"Hopefully, we can get some sensible gun legislation that will be effective, they will make a difference," Rhodes said.

A difference they hope will stop gun violence and keep them from adding additional shirts to the Memorial of the Lost.

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