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Taking a Stand Against Violence

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- 2014 is turning out to be a violent year in Cedar Rapids.

As of now, barely one third of the way into the year, there have been seven homicides.

Saturday night, there were two more shootings and two more people injured. The first shooting happened around 9:30 near Wiley Blvd SW. There, a man was found at a convenience store a short distance from the shooting -- and transported to the hospital.

The second shooting occurred at around 11pm on 21st Ave SW. A woman suffered injuries in her home. Police are still looking into both incidents.

When it comes to violence here in the community, Franklin Davis has felt the sting - twice.

"I grew up in this community...I don't like what's happening to it."

First it was his niece Denisha Davis. She was shot in Iowa City back in March, and is now paralyzed.

Then it was close family friend Sierrah Simmons, shot and killed two weeks ago.

"We all went to elementary school together, she was like Denisha's best friend," Davis said.

Recently, both tragedies intersected - at Sierrah's funeral.

"Taking my niece for her first wheelchair trip out of the hospital to her best friend's funeral," Davis said. "An 18 year old to a 22 year old's funeral - that's not supposed to be like that."

People seem to be on opposite ends of the street when it comes to violence here in the neighborhoods. Davis says you have the silent majority - people that are afraid to go to the police or even us when violence breaks out because they are afraid of retaliation.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the people that are anything but silent. They're taking the law into their own hands and meeting violence with violence.

"Divided we're being conquered by the violent streets," Davis says.

Take Saturday's shootings for example. People we spoke to on Sunday didn't want to go on camera, but suggested the shootings may have been in retaliation to Sierrah's death.

Davis says the eye for an eye mentality has to change - but so does the lack of action by the community.

"Everyone just stands around and does nothing, that's all it takes for evil to triumph."

He's starting VVFC - or Voices and Venues for Change. The idea is to go beyond neighborhood watch - and embrace a city wide watch. It starts with a march and clean-up next Saturday.

"I think that by coming together, from all different walks of life just to say we care, we can do greater things," Davis says.

He hopes the more voices come together in unison, the more those voices will turn into a roar.

"We're here to stay, this is our community, and we really are planning on taking it back," Davis says.

It's a message those causing the violence won't be able to ignore.

The march and cleanup will take place on Saturday the 26th at Noon at the intersection of 1st avenue NE and 15th street SE. Bags and gloves will be provided, but Davis is encouraging people to bring extra bags and gloves.

Also, if you see crime or violence in your neighborhood, please don't hesitate to tell us. Click the 'Connects Against Crime' tab on our website (http://cbs2iowa.com/news/features/crime/) to submit tips or info.
 
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