Advocates and community members are concerned about the recent spike in local gun-related violence.By Jessica Guay

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh organizations and community leaders are continuously trying to curb gun violence, which was the topic at two large events on Saturday.

One of the events was for Pittsburghers who make a difference. Community leaders and social justice advocates were highlighted with awards at the Stop the Violence Pittsburgh 7th annual Black-Tie Honors Gala and Juneteenth celebration.

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“There’s a lot of things going on in our community, like we are in dire straits, and we need people to do something to help people to stop the violence and to continue the education,” William Marshall said, founder and CEO of Stop the Violence Pittsburgh.

“There’s many hardworking people in our community that take this very seriously so they’re working every day. People don’t understand or know they are,” said Brenda Tate, longtime resident of the Hill District.

Looking at 2021 so far, Allegheny County Police reported 35 non-fatal shootings and 28 fatal shootings. Pittsburgh Police reported 69 non-fatal shootings and 28 homicides. One was not by a gun.

“It’s all over. I don’t know if we can blame the pandemic or what but coming from a religious standpoint, somebody has kicked open the door to the gates of hell and things are rushing,” said Steven Jackson who was master of ceremonies at the gala.

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Just hours before the gala, there was a peace walk in the Hill District with many organizations and community members calling for an end to violence. This was held as part of ‘wear orange weekend.’

“Every day we are waking up to news of another shooting and it is a problem with access to guns in this country and so really proud of the community coming together and saying we’re not going to stand for this,” said Gina Pelusi with Everytown for Gun Safety.

Countless people in the Pittsburgh area are doing whatever it takes to close this violent chapter.

“That’s what it takes. Black and white, rich and poor, coming together and making a difference and we come together as one core trying to make a difference,” Reverend Glenn Grayson, Center That Cares.

Wear orange is a national movement that began after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was killed by a stray bullet in Chicago in 2013.

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This was the seventh year “Wear Orange Weekend” has been recognized nationwide.