‘Ride of Tears’ looks to stop violence against children in the Mid-South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ride of Tears, an organization that supports families who’ve lost youth to violence here in Memphis, launched a two-fold mission on Sunday.

The group visited local neighborhoods while taking prayer and hope into crime-ridden neighborhoods, while also commemorating the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The group of anti-violence activists aimed to pick up where Dr. King left off, sending a message of peace over hatred.

“Put the guns down and save our babies,” shouted a protestor as leaders took charge of local streets with a message of putting the guns down.

One-by-one, five communities gathered in prayer.

“Touch them today father. Touch them with your mighty hand father,” said one of the faithful.

Sunday’s Ride of Tears tour travelled through five stops including Level III nightclub in memory of 16-year-old Nia Ratcliff who lost her life to gun violence at the club Christmas Day. A fleet of nearly 20 vehicles also paraded a stop-the-violence message into the Westwood community, where multiple unsolved murders are under investigation.

RELATED: Westwood murders: Residents concerned about their safety

They continued to MLK Park and the I Am a Man Exhibit in honor of Dr. King.

“We are tired of the killing, and it needs to end,” shouted protestors.

In an attempt to connect with the youth, activists also shared personal setbacks and successes from their own life journey.

“I’m an ex dope dealer. I sold dope. I sold women, but God blessed me to turn my life around,” said Freedom from Unnecessary Negatives founder Stevie Moore.

Meanwhile, Irene Douglas shared her personal story with FOX13.

Douglas joined the Ride of Tears mission while still working to heal her own sorrows after losing her daughter, 14-year-old Naterria Douglas, to gun violence back in December. The teen was one of two victims shot and killed while riding with her brother during a DoorDash delivery.

RELATED: Two men arrested in Ohio after 14-year-old girl, 17-year-old boy shot to death in Memphis

Douglas said although she lost something so precious, she’s learning a valuable lesson of forgiveness.

“That’s the issue. People, they don’t want to forgive. They want to hold on to it. They want to be angry. They want to retaliate. Retaliation ain’t it,” Douglas said.

This same unforgettable message of peace was also carried out by an iconic symbol from the Civil Rights movement 55 years ago. On the heels of the annual Doctor Martin Luther King birthday celebration, residents reflected on and compared the martyr’s dream to today’s harsh reality.

“King went all over the country pushing peace, love, unity, freedom, one nation, and every 24-hours somebody getting shot and killed in Memphis,” said Keith Leachman, President of Stop the Killing, Cut the Beef.