Mothers on a Mission: End the deadly violence | News
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Nine mothers and one grandmother who lost sons to street violence are the foundation of the Grand Rapids group, Mothers On a Mission.
The goal of MOM is to end the killing of young black males by other young black males.
"I want to affect just one of them," says Carla Cheeks. "Get them to make better choices."
Cheeks' grandson, Darryl Thompkins, 19, was shot to death in 2006.
Friday afternoon, the members of MOM sat along Eastern Avenue SE near enlarged photos of their murdered children. The display was aimed specifically at the young black males in the neighborhood.
"They are looking," says Valerie Figures, who lost two sons to street violence. "Hopefully, if they were going out to do something this will change their minds."
"[It's meant to] make them think to the point where they won't pick up that gun or pull that trigger," says MOM founder Ralph Mason, a retired Grand Rapids police lieutenant. "I don't know if it will work. We have used police. We have used ministers. We have used marches. We have used all sorts of things and now I'm using mothers."
Ex-convicts are also helping the effort. Men released after serving sentences for street crimes are working with the mothers, trying to help boys stay out of jail
"I was fascinated by the things I saw out on the streets," says former convict Elija Libbett. "I had made up my mind that's what I wanted to do."
Now, after spending 15 years in prison, Libbett says he wants to help young men avoid the mistakes he made.
"Because I've been there, maybe [I'll] make a difference in their lives," he says.
The assembly Friday outside Elenore's Restaurant was the first demonstration by MOM. The group is recruiting more mothers of murdered children and planning future events to spread their message.
"If it makes one of them think, the gang banger, the thug, the young man or woman who wants to carry a gun around and do violence, that's what it's all about," says Mason.
To get more information about "MOM" e-mail Ralph Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.