Archbishop Vincent Nichols at anti-gun event

 Archbishop Vincent Nichols spoke during the powerful and emotional Communities Unite anti-gun event under the slogan 'Enough is Enough' held at Aston Villa Football Ground in Birmingham yesterday. Cyril Regis the former West Bromwich Albion football star, and now a born-again Christian, introduced the Archbishop as he came to the microphone. "I, and many people with me, are praying for these two families, the Shakespeare family and the Ellis family, in their sadness and grief," he said as the crowd fell silent. "I want to urge you, assure you, that we all stand together, in solidarity, in the face of sadness, disruption, violence. People living and acting together in solidarity have great strength. Solidarity defeated communism. Solidarity in Birmingham can defeat street violence. Solidarity needs strength; strength of purpose; strength of face, emphasised Archbishop Nichols. "In the morning look into the mirror. Yes, we must look right for the day. Look into your eyes: it,s important that you feel OK. But more importantly, remember that the eyes are the window of the soul. We must have strength in our souls: the strength of God,s presence. For God lives in each of us and from God we draw our strength. "With strength of faith we say 'Yes' to life and 'No' to death; 'Yes' to solidarity, 'No' to selfishness; 'Yes' to the rule of law, 'No' to criminality; 'Yes' to peace, 'No' to violence. May God give us strength for all that lies ahead," stressed the Archbishop Nichols. He was warmly applauded by more than eight thousand people, from local communities throughout Birmingham, assembled in the new Trinity Road Stand. Young people from some of the most deprived areas of the inner city united in their utter condemnation of the gun and gun culture that claimed the lives of two teenagers. 18-year old Charlene Ellis and her friend 17-year old Letisha Shakespeare were brutally killed in a hail of bullets outside a hairdressing salon in Birchfield Road, Aston, near Villa Park in the early hours of 2 January. The three-hour multi-faith, multi-culture 'Enough is Enough, Youth cry LIFE not DEATH' event was organised by community leaders and the Aston Community Youth Project and included a wealth of local musical talent. The choir of St Edmund Campion Catholic comprehensive school in Erdington, Birmingham, sang together with the Aston Manor Youth Choir, before international pop stars Ms Dynamite and Beverley Knight, both from the Midlands, came on stage and paid their own tributes to the two murdered teenagers. The new Anglican Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Reverend Dr John Sentamu, the first black Anglican Diocesan Bishop in England said: "Those who carry guns are living on borrowed time as our community will not tolerate it and the police are working with us and they will be picked up one by one." Towards the close of this deeply moving and memorable rally supported by local councillors and politicians, Bishop Sentamu introduced and led the crowd in an emotional rendition of: "We shall overcome." Earlier, Pastor Calvin Young of the Aston Christian Centre and the Council of Black-Led Churches, challenged the gangs to put down their guns and talk: In some of the most powerful words of the afternoon he said: "We've ruled God out of our schools and our community. Life not death must come into our communities. Let,s find a way forward. We need more than a cosmetic healing. The members of gangs need healing. They are someone,s children as well. A truce must be called now!" Later, in an interview with The Birmingham Post, Archbishop Nichols also called on people with information about the killings to come forward "or pass it on to a trusted go-between. He said: "I hope and pray Pastor Young,s call for a truce will touch these people who are prepared to use guns and violence on the streets of our city. I will back his call for a truce and I pray for those people who wield guns or weapons to put them down and think again."

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