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Teen Choice Awards 2016 Honor Families of Victims of Gun Violence in Powerful Tribute

The Teen Choice Awards took a break from handing out surfboards on Sunday, July 31, to send a powerful message about gun violence and the lives it destroys. Joined on stage by the family members of victims killed in recent shootings, Jessica Alba told their stories and the stories of the loved ones they’d lost.

Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba, with families of victims of gun violence, speaks at the Teen Choice Awards.

“Here with me tonight is a group of brave teenagers who share an unlikely bond that is hard to comprehend. They are the brothers, sisters, daughters and family members of recent victims of gun violence,” the actress began. “I am talking about Aurora, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Minneapolis, Orlando, San Bernardino, Newtown. It keeps happening, and it has to stop.”

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She went on to explain how each teen was connected to someone who died by gun violence. “J.T. [Lewis] was just like you, until he lost his 6-year-old little brother, Jesse Lewis, one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown,” Alba shared. “Jolene and Colin wake up every day missing their mother, Bennetta Betbadal, who was one of the 14 people killed in San Bernardino.”

Also on stage with her were Jamal, Justin and Myreanna Josaphat, the siblings of Jason Josaphat, one of the 49 people killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting; Patience Carter and Tiara Parker, who were injured in Orlando and lost Tiara’s cousin Akyra Murray in the attack on the popular gay nightclub; Cameron Sterling, whose father, Alton Sterling, was shot by police in Baton Rouge; and a relative of Cederrius Hastings, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Georgia.

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“Tonight we stand together with these teens, united in our call for peace and an end to this violence,” Alba said. “Now more than ever we need to stop, feel and ask what’s going on.”

On that note, Ne-Yo took the stage to perform Marvin Gaye‘s “What’s Going On.” As he sang, pictures of gun-violence victims and their families flashed on a screen behind him.

Alba took the stage again after Ne-Yo’s performance. “These teens had the courage to come here and share their grief and take a stand,” she told the crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, California. “And tonight, Ne-Yo and I and all of us here and all of you watching need to do the same.”

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Ne-Yo then asked the crowd to come together as one by taking a photo of the teens on stage and tweeting it with the hashtag “#StopTheViolence.”

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