SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A group called Action Center is holding a rally Wednesday night against gun violence in Springfield. The word Action stands for ‘Actively Changing Things In Our Neighborhood,’ which is what the group is hoping to do by bringing people together to find a solution to prevent these crimes from happening.
The event follows the death of Chaviz Nguyen, a man who was shot in killed Tuesday night.
“This young man and these families, this wreck has become normal,” Pastor Roger Franklin said. He is the founder of Action Center. “We’re so used to seeing wrecks, we just drive past them now. So these lives that are being taken at young ages and it’s not just African-American kids anymore, it’s all races that this temper is acting out.”
Nguyen is the 17th person murdered in Springfield in 2023, a number Franklin and others said should be zero.
“The fastest growing cause of inner city death is gun violence,” Franklin said. “Memphis is seeing it at a raising rate, St Louis is seeing it, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore. Now, Springfield is catching up with some of these cities. If we’re used to this, it becomes so normal.”
Takiyah Uplinger is the Assistant Director of Action Center. This year, she’s been faced with loss time after time.
“I buried four of my close friends this year, and I’m 25 years old,” “That is sickening. These are people that we’re supposed to be seeing, getting married and having kids and buying houses and getting a new car. But instead we’re sobbing at their funerals.”
Uplinger knew Nguyen and was devastated by his death.
“Chaviz has been one of the sweetest, most caring family men that I know that most of us know,” Uplinger said. “These are good people, good humans, good God-fearing people that are being taken. I’m ready to take action and do something about it because our city officials are not and their silence is deafening.”
Rhiann Pearson is the cousin of the woman who was hospitalized after last night’s shooting.
“I never would imagine it would have been one of my family members lost to gun violence,” said Pearson. “This has got to stop.”
At Wednesday’s rally, multiple speakers shared their thoughts on gun violence in Springfield.
“This is all of our problem. This isn’t just on the family, this is our issue,” said one speaker with the NAACP.
Pearson also attended the rally.
“If you got a gun, use it when you need it,” Pearson said. “Don’t use it when you feel like it.”
Franklin said the goal of the rally is to come up with resources that could lead to solutions to stop the violence in the town.
“We can’t fix it overnight,” Franklin said. “But I can at least say, we need your hammer, we need your nail, we need your architectural skills. Then when we get all the tools, I am going to go to our city of Springfield and say, now we got the tools, we need a box to put them in.”
Franklin also said he wanted to get people to use compassion.
“This young man should not be dead,” Franklin said. “The funeral I did a few months ago, that middle school boy should not be dead. Why [is there] no compassion? So that’s the answer to me, is we got to get compassion back in people.”
Franklin hopes that compassion will help stop people from committing crimes.
“Life is too short to be just out here living life angry,” Uplinger said. “Our families out here deserve justice, and they deserve answers for why their children are being murdered. I have hope for our future, but I don’t have hope for a future if we don’t start doing something else.”
Springfield Police are still searching for the person who shot and killed Nguyen.