MILWAUKEE — Tuesday, marks the start of National Gun Violence Survivors Week in Milwaukee. During this week, community members are asked to remember all victims and survivors of gun violence, and to also commit to reducing gun violence.
Jenevia Blanks is a lifelong Milwaukee resident who has suffered at the hands of gun violence, and it did not stop with her. Through the years, she said gun violence has rocked her family with multiple members being shot, including her cousin.
"I don't know how you accidentally shoot someone in the back of the head, but they did and they took his body and threw it in the parking lot of Froedtert Hospital," Blanks said.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department, last year in Milwaukee 872 people were shot and survived. A number that is up from 764 in 2020 and 452 in 2019.
Already this year, 61 people were shot and survived including three local members of law enforcement.
Now, leaders want to honor those victims by fighting for a safer community.
"What a joy for the world to recognize our pain and it also gives you hope that one day we wont be having these press conferences," said Debra Gillispie, founder of Mothers Against Gun Violence.
Gillispie never imagined herself standing in front of cameras, but her life changed on a September night in 2003 when her only son, Kirk Bickham Jr. was shot and killed.
"The pain will never go away," she said.
Gillispie channeled her pain and founded Mothers Against Gun Violence. She made it her life's work to uplift the voices of survivors.
Both women are concerned by the increase of gun violence in the city, but remain hopeful things will change.
"I hope this week moves people to action to say, what can I do to help so that no other family will have to feel the pain our family and other survivors families are feeling," Blanks said.
They both agree, the first step is simple.
"Put the guns down," Gillispie said.