MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Wisconsin chapter of the League of Young Voters on Sunday, September 1st hosted its 9th annual "Put Down the Guns" Festival at King Park on W. Vliet Avenue.
With 23 shootings in Milwaukee in the first week in August, the League and Milwaukee residents came together on Sunday in an effort to decrease gun violence in the city.
"It's ridiculous. It's almost like it's a part of our culture now. It's something that's gonna take a lot of hard work to change, but if you're willing to do the work, and put together festivals like this, at least you're making a step toward the change," Marshall Trudo IV said.
According to Milwaukee police, the city has seen 66 murders in 2013. Hoping to stunt a sad statistic, organizers of Sunday's festival asked those at the rally to share the names of loved ones lost to violence.
"I'm not the only person that's lost a loved one, so we need to come together," Jarvis West said.
Rather than confine the message to King Park, the group marched through the neighborhood, taking up for corners to reinforce their message.
"We go out and talk to people and we try to find out the reason why they think it's so much violence in their community and the first thing they say, especially young people, is they don't have anything to do. So they get caught in the street life and it gets a hold of them," Kenyetta Lewis with the League of Young Voters said.
The event welcomed residents of the city of Milwaukee to attend a day of family-friendly fun with local artists, food, recreation area for kids to play and peace.
“We are bringing hope back to our communities while providing free food, school supplies, and an amazing performance and video shoot by Milwaukee’s own Ray Nitti," executive director, Rob “Biko” Baker said.
In addition to Ray Nitti, former Bucks cheerleader, Destiny Love taught attendees choreographed steps to be featured in the remix to Ray Nitti’s hit song "Lights Down Low."
The day kicked off with a parade at 11:00 a.m., followed by the main festival from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m.
After the main festival, Ray Nitti, performed and shot the video for his hit song “Lights Down Low” and the festival concluded with a dance party.
The League of Young Voters empowers young people nationwide to participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level – with a focus on non-college youth and youth from low-income communities and communities of color.
The League meets young people where they are, works on issues that affect their lives, and provides them with tools, training, and support to become serious catalysts for change.