Greenville MLK rally focuses on reducing Upstate gun violence

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GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA-TV) – Every 13 hours, a South Carolinian is killed with a gun. The CDC statistic is a scary one and it’s a reason a local group is using MLK Day to raise awareness about gun violence.

A Freedom Fighters rally in Downtown Greenville, Monday, gave gun violence survivors a voice to help end the dilemma.

One of those survivors is Brandi Brown. She was just 21 when she was shot in the face with a sawed off shotgun and left for dead in Greenville.

It changed her life forever. Brown now wears a mask daily.

“They just tried to kill me to shut me up,” said Brown.

Wounds claimed lower portions of her face and her hand. One of her shooters is behind bars, while the other walks free.

“I still get paranoid,” said Brown.

It’s what happened to her that makes her speak up, determined to end gun violence by starting early.

“Just don’t mess with guns. They are not toys,” said Brown.

A recent video of several Greenville boys playing with what looks like guns is going viral on the internet. Shared by Greenville Freedom Fighters, it’s hard to know if the guns are real or airsoft.

Greenville Police Spokesman Jonathan Bragg said it doesn’t matter.

“If you’re just driving down the street, you don’t know if it is an airsoft gun or a real gun and these days you have guns that are painted all sorts of colors that are real guns and it’s just scary to see how guns are being made and portrayed and, unfortunately, it does look like toys to kids,” said Bragg.

Bragg said it can lead to real danger.

A study by the Center for American Progress pulled CDC statistics. They found 660 South Carolinians under the age of 21 were killed by a gun from 2005 to 2014.

“It’s very disturbing as well when we have these incidents with guns involved in schools,” said Bragg.

Most recently, a 15-year-old boy was arrested and expelled from Greenville High School for bringing a gun to school and pulling it on a teacher.

Brown said this makes her message even more important this MLK day.

“You don’t need a gun to be cool,” said Brown.

Monday’s rally put on by the Freedom Fighters, displayed 51 crosses. Each cross represented a life lost here in the Upstate due to gun violence.

The rally’s message was one life lost is one too many.

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