Toy guns smashed, burned during ceremonial event

Toy guns smashed, burned during ceremonial event
Activists are calling on manufacturers to change the appearance of toy guns after two fatal shootings in Ohio.
Toy guns were burned at the event. (Source: WOIO)
Toy guns were burned at the event. (Source: WOIO)
Toy guns were also smashed to ensure they could not be used. (Source: WOIO)
Toy guns were also smashed to ensure they could not be used. (Source: WOIO)

A group visited Cleveland for an event that they hope will help send a message to legislators about the dangers of toy guns.

In memory of Tamir Rice, the Outcast Voters League hosted a ceremonial toy gun smash and burn at the Cudell Recreation Center on Sunday.

The organization's president, Frank Matthews, calls for the end of toy gun sales in a multi-city push to end tragic incidents, like the deaths of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and 22-year-old John Crawford, Jr.

"Twice in a six-week period, we have seen police gun down young people holding toy guns," Matthews said. "The Outcast Voters League calls on parents to get rid of these toys. We call on toy manufacturers to quit making toys that look like real guns. We are losing our children to countless acts of injustice."

Matthews says fake guns led to his life of crime and he believes they are just as dangerous as real guns.

"In the projects, people used to pass by and I would shoot at them with BB guns," he said.

That led to the real thing. Matthews was arrested 19 times before turning 33. But he turned that thug life around and now calls himself one of God's gangsters.

This mission spans 50 states over the next 13 months to eradicate toy guns. Here in Cleveland, the Outcast Voters League put out calls to neighbors to spread the word of the smash and melt. Those calls were answered.

By burning and smashing, Matthews hopes his message is heard by neighbors and others across the country.

"Toy guns kill just like real guns. The word is 'gun.' So we want to smash from the hearts and the minds and the soul of young people," said Matthews.

This tour goes all across the country with dates and events booked through the beginning of next year.

If you missed Sunday's event, your child still has a chance to trade in their toy weapon for some prizes. On Dec. 13, the Boys and Girls Club on Broadway Avenue in Cleveland will host a toy gun buyback, where kids can exchange their fake weapons for comic books.

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