Guns Down, Love Up Unity Festival celebrated in North Minneapolis

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Photo credit Guns Down Love Up

An afternoon of love, peace, laughter, and togetherness at Bethune Park in North Minneapolis on Saturday also took time to remember those lost to gun violence.

Guns Down Love Up got underway at 1 p.m. Saturday and was scheduled to run until 8 p.m. with children’s activities, free food, and music. Kendra Pierson was among several volunteers wearing bright red shirts with the words 'Guns Down, Love Up' across the chest.

"We have to have a conversation about gun violence. It's a difficult conversation," Pierson said. "It's about just loving each other. You can't shoot someone if you love them."

On Friday, organizers of the event denounced recent shootings in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Gun Violence shows up in many forms; domestic violence, civilian shootings, police shootings, and mass shootings. When gun violence occurs, it impacts people in different ways, creating a lifetime of trauma for our communities, families, individuals, and society,” said Raeisha Williams, business owner and lead organizer for Guns Down Love Up.

Pierson added that it's not just African Americans who are experiencing gun-related deaths.

"Although African Americans are disproportionately impacted, it's everyone that's impacted," she said. "Unfortunately we have a culture of mass shootings that's been happening for a long time."

Saturday's event included a counseling area with spiritual counseling, therapists, and massage therapists to reach out to those with different healing needs and introduce people to healing opportunities.

Music at Saturday's event included live musical performances by Grammy Award-Winning group, The Sounds of Blackness, in addition to many local artists, and community healers.

More events are being planned for the future in North Minneapolis to help curtail gun violence across the Twin Cities.