FLINT TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (08/24/19) - A protest outside of a Walmart in Flint Township where community members looking for a change.
They came with signs, letters, and hopes of talking about gun violence.
Peaceful protesters from a group called "Blackscopes" gathered to put an end to gun violence.
"We need to deal with this gun violence. It's very, very serious and very, very dear to my heart for me and my partners. With the crime rate that's going up in Flint and everything that's happening all around the world, it needs to stop," Cynthia Haynes, a member of the group, said.
Walmart is the nation's biggest retailer, and firearms have long made up a key part of their business. That's why Blackscopes is hoping the retail-giant can lend a helping hand to a nationwide crisis.
"We want real-world solutions, so we want to partner with Walmart to really use their advantages that they have. Using that cloud to an advantage that serves everyone and not just business," Joseph Pettigrew said. Pettigrew is the founder of Blackscopes.
Their protest caught the eye of Walmart's store manager, which is a huge step for Pettigrew, who lost his father to gun violence in May of twenty-eighteen.
His father, Sidnew Pettigrew, was working out at Rock Fitness Center in Flint. Two men walked in posing as repairmen; instead, they opened fire. Pettigrew was shot and killed. There was no motive.
"It gave me human aspect of it. We see so many homicides happening, and a lot of us normalize it. When it happened to me, I was even more frustrated. I was already frustrated, but when I came home, I was like, something's got to be done," Pettigrew said.
The group handed the manager a letter from a website: WalmartMustAct.org. It calls for Walmart to stop selling guns, stop making political contributions to lawmakers who benefit from the NRA, pledge that they'll use their political influence for legislative changes, and invest in communities like Flint.
"If we actually invest in the city, municipals, people, jobs, and education, then those are the tools that we can design on the grass root level. That can mitigate a lot of the violence in general," Pettigrew said.
Blackscopes' future plans include mentor ship in Flint's public schools.
If you'd like to learn more about Blackscopes or volunteer, you can visit their Facebook page in the related links.