Organizers gather to 'stop the violence' at Piatt Park in downtown Cincinnati

CINCINNATI – Four shootings in two days made Piatt Park a violent downtown setting one week ago, but a rally held Monday night began bringing peace back to the area.

Police beefed up their presence and added street lights to the Piatt Park area during days that followed the shootings, one of which left 25-year-old Joshua Taylor dead.

Taylor's family, along with others coping with similar losses joined Monday's rally to help police - and the people -  take back Piatt Park.

The rally, called "Stop the Violence," began at 7 p.m. Organizers asked anyone who has been impacted by gun violence to join in and speak.

Authorities say 25-year-old Joshua Lamar Taylor was shot multiple times just after 7 p.m. July 7 near the entrance of the Garfield Suites Hotel and the James A. Garfield statue in Piatt Park. The scene at the corner of Vine Street and Garfield Place is also a block from The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Taylor was pronounced dead during surgery at University of Cincinnati Medical Center later that evening.

The following night, three people were shot near the same intersection . Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said he "absolutely" believed the two shootings were related.

Attending the rally was Lynn Carlton, whose son was shot to death in summer 2013 during a robbery in North College Hill. She had never attended a rally to fight violence until Monday evening, when she joined others downtown.

"I know what it feels like to get that knock at the door," she said. "Nowadays these kids act like it's the Wild Wild West. They have no value for life."

Bridget Smith took part in Monday's rally. She lost her son to a shooting in June 2008, and that murder has yet to be solved. She understands the rally's role in helping families cope with the loss of a loved one.

"It really helps us out, our healing for our (lost) child, to be able to reach out to another mother, and help another mother who's going through the same thing we're going through," she said.

Putting violence to an end is no overnight feat, but those at the rally are insistent on making a difference. At one point during the gathering, the crowd chanted the phone number to Crime Stoppers, which allows people to anonymously submit tips to solving crime cases.

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell says cooperation helps police when shootings happen. Two people killed in last Tuesday's triple shooting refused to work with officers.

"That no snitch mentality has got to stop," Blackwell said. "You start building better relationships in the community, better trusting relationships, and that's the beginning."

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