Teens rally against gun violence in East Knoxville

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A group of teenagers rallied against gun violence on Saturday.

It’s a message the community has heard for the last several days now after three Austin East Students were shot and killed in the last month.

Two of those students were killed within days of each other..

Now teens in the community are pleading for change.

Students and community members are saying “enough is enough,” and that they don’t want to lose another one of their friends or classmates to gun violence.

“Lord we are praying for the ones who are hurt by this gun violence that is going on Father God,” said Esha Brown in a prayer. “That they no longer wish to pick up a gun Father God.”

It was a small group Saturday, but they had a big message.

“Whether it’s a big group or a small group, as long as we come together as a community that’s all that matters,” said Ethan Cooke, one of the young organizers of Saturday’s event.

RELATED STORY: Prayer vigil held for Austin-East community on Saturday

Several teenagers came together, frustrated over recent gun violence.

“Losses, after losses, after losses, friends, family, co-workers,” Cooke added.

“And after us going through pain, just supporting everyone, it was needed,” said co-organizer, Jamiesha Landis. “It needed to be done.”

Ethan Cooke is a graduate of Austin-East High School and Jamiesha is about to enter high school

Both of them wanted to honor their friends and former classmates.

“Stanley, I had class with him. I had worked with him. So, it was kind of a big hit when I seen that,” Cooke explained. “He was a wonderful man. He always, he was never out in gangs, none of that. He was always about family.”

Saturday’s event was put together quickly by the teenagers.

“To be brought that idea from my child was speechless,” said Jamiesha’s mother, Jaessica Landis. “It really touched me.”

Jaessica hopes her child’s efforts have a lasting impression on others,

“It’s my child that’s waking up every morning crying because she’s losing a friend,” she said. “So, for her to stand up and speak out like this, I’m extremely proud of her.”

“We got to fix the gun violence and if this is what it takes on a cold morning, then I’m okay with that,” Jeassica added.

One step at a time, these teenagers are taking a stand, and their parents are proud.

“They should be able to focus on school,” said Jeassica. “They’re leaving schools and getting shot. They should be able to focus on their grades in schools without having to worry about that gun violence outside.”

Investigators are still trying to find whoever killed Janaria Mahammad and Stanley Freeman Jr.

Janaria was killed four nights ago while Stanley was shot a week ago while he was leaving school.

If you have any information that may help investigators with the Knoxville Police Department, you are encouraged to call 865-215-7212.

You can remain anonymous.

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