SUMMERVILLE - Last year, Sierra Truesdale was killed by a stray bullet outside a St. George nightclub on her 23rd birthday. Saturday morning, her mother, Tamika Myers, joined other Lowcountry residents affected by violence to call for a "culture change" at a Unity in the Community rally in Summerville.
"(Sierra) went back in to get her friend and her shoes, and she was caught in the crossfire," Myers, of Goose Creek, said. "But this is not just for my daughter. This is for the kids in Myrtle Beach, for everyone affected by violence."
The rally was part of a larger effort to reduce violence and increase cooperation with and trust of the police, said Janie Colleton, a Summerville resident who organized Saturday's event. Colleton's brother was shot eight times and killed at a James Island nightclub in the 1980s.
The rally was spurred by the recent deaths of multiple young people from the Lowcountry, including three shot in Myrtle Beach over Memorial Day weekend and a 19-year-old shot and killed at a block party in Moncks Corner in early June.
"The savageness of it all has struck a chord in the community," said Louis Smith, executive director of the Community Resource Center in Summerville. "We want to honor them by showing we stand with them and we want to start a culture change."
The message from Smith, Colleton and other rally participants was clear: If you see something, say something.
A culture of "no snitching" emboldens violent criminals in Lowcountry communities, according to Smith.
"Crooks - terrorists, if you will - have used that to their advantage," Smith said. "Let's get these terrorists off our streets. If you see something going on that's illegal, just call the police."
Many of those in attendance Saturday had a family member who had been killed as a result of gun violence. Rev. Gail Rollerson's brother was "gunned down" in 1985, and his killer has never been found. Outreach through area churches will be crucial in reducing violent crime in the Lowcountry, she said.
Colleton plans on partnering with the Community Resource Center, Trident Technical College and other local organizations to bring opportunities and activities to kids and young adults in the area. She plans to work with football and basketball programs and make resume workshops available.
Many at the rally, including Myers, said they plan to continue working with the movement.
"It doesn't end with today's rally," Myers said. "My daughter started her story, and I'm here to finish it."
Contact Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne