Bringing forward the witnesses of homicides.
This has been the goal of community member Felice Patton’s organization, Stop Needless Acts of Violence Please (S.N.A.P.) since 2015, when Patton’s son, Quinton Combs, was fatally shot in Cape Girardeau.
On Saturday, the organization hosted their annual “Wear Orange” Community Prayer March, in partnership with southeast Missouri’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“The message is about love and not hate,” Patton said. “We want to bring unity.”
The color orange has become a designated color for protestors against gun violence after the 2013 death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old killed in Chicago who had performed only a week before at President Obama’s second inaugural parade. The color was chosen for its use by hunters to avoid being mistakenly shot. According to a press release from Moms Demand Action, orange also “honors the 100 lives cut short and the hundreds more wounded by gun violence every day — and demands our lawmakers take action that will help keep all Americans safer.”
Patton says there were nearly 60 people around during her son’s murder, but nobody admitted to seeing the crime.
“When I went looking for answers of why people would not disclose a murderer, I found people were afraid,” she said. “And upon that, we founded S.N.A.P.”
The name S.N.A.P. originated from a catchphrase Combs used prior to his death.
“My son used to say it all the time. ‘Oh snap, Mama, you look good today.’ ‘Snap, Mama, thank you for cooking,’” she said.
Among S.N.A.P.’s successes is the creation of an anonymous tip line with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, which allows witnesses to submit their knowledge to authorities through text or phone call. It also acts with various ministries across the area, praying over places where violence has been committed during their weekly Tuesday meetings.
The walk is a yearly chance to commemorate the lives that have been cut short.
“Some of the families are still grieving as I am,” Patton said, adding that her son’s murder was solved just last year.
She said although some accuse the south side of town of being the hub of the violence, murders are a common problem that extend beyond any one part of Cape Girardeau.
Starting at Indian Park on William Street, the march took participants across town to the sites of 19 murders by firearms within 2.7 miles. At each site, Minister Lee Treadwell said a prayer for the families of the deceased, and asked God to bring an end to violence and “bring about a change in your people.”
Those who had been affected by the deaths being commemorated carried crosses made from pipes, and planted them at the location where the murder happened.
Cape Girardeau mayor Bob Fox addressed the crowd as well, talking about how the community can come together and form coalitions to stop the violence.
“Let’s just hope this prayer and this coalition work,” he said, adding that the event was being held for the fourth year in a row. “It takes time.”
“It’s going to take Christian people to stand up and take a stand, and quit sitting on the sidelines dressed in a uniform, and not out on a playing field,” said Sikeston Pastor Gary Ashby.