NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Mothers of children killed in high-profile gun-related homicides say parents need to step in to prevent more gun violence.
"You cannot stop trying, because there is a community out here that will suffer from your inability to take care of your child and that's unfair to us," said Amber Posey.
Amber Posey's 17-year-old daughter Ashanti was shot and killed in April 2020.
"I have a three-year-old niece who comes to my house and she kisses her pictures because she can't kiss her in person. Those are conversations that I don't know how to have, but it's a conversation that we must have," Posey said.
Posey joined Susie Payne and Anyetta Marlowe on Tuesday in a park in the Andrew Jackson community. Payne and Marlowe have also lost children in a gun-related incident.
"I just like to get out and tell moms don't give up on your child's justice," said Susie Payne.
Payne's 24-year-old son Eric McClendon was killed in December 2017.
Between January and April of this year, 37 people were shot and killed and three of them were kids. One of those victims was three-year-old Jamayla Marlowe.
"I stopped dead in my tracks. It physically hurt my heart because she was only three years old [and] in the most secure spot she could be, with her mother," Posey said.
Jamayla was sitting in a car when she was struck by a stray bullet on April 12. Her 2-year-old sister was hit in the arm but survived.
"Now [Anyetta] has to have conversations with her kid at the age of two that she shouldn't have to have with somebody's child that is 17 or 18," Posey said.
But talking is what these mothers believe is not happening enough. They feel parents in their community are not voicing to their kids that violence is not the answer.
"Discipline. They need to discipline their children," Payne said.
"What I say to the parents out here that feel like [their] child is out of control or my child is 18 [and] I don't have to raise them no more - that's a lie. They're forever your child," Posey said.
They acknowledge talking about violence with children can be uncomfortable, but said it is necessary.
"When we get out here we're not just speaking for our kids. We're speaking for every child that has been lost to gun violence because it has to stop somewhere. It has to," Posey said.
Gun-related homicides are up 62% in Nashville compared to the numbers this time last year.